MEMPHIS – The release of a video clip showing Memphis police officers beating, kicking and pepper spraying Tire Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, quickly sparked controversy among law enforcement officials, lawmakers of both parties, and “ Black Lives Matter activists and many others across the country.
Their message is basically a unified expression of fear and loathing. The video, released by city officials Friday night, captures what police initially described as a routine traffic stop on Jan. 17. 7 was an outburst of violence against Mr. Nichols, died three days later.
Protesters in Memphis and across the country, however, largely heeded Trump’s pleas for days. The Nichols family and others remain peaceful. Dozens of people marched in Memphis on Friday night, flooding the interstate and blocking a major bridge; another demonstration is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
Demonstrators gathered in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta and Times Square in Manhattan. Minor vandalism occurred during the protest outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, which was cordoned off by officers in riot gear, officials said.
“This video is all the horrible things that were described to us,” said Josh Spickler, executive director of Just City, a civil rights group in Memphis. Nichols’ family recounted the contents of the video.
Shortly after the incident, Memphis city officials decided to make the video public to increase transparency. Four separate clips, from police body cameras and surveillance cameras mounted on utility poles, were shared online, totaling nearly an hour of footage.
On Thursday, prosecutors announced that five Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with Mr. Nichols’ death. Nearly a week ago, those same officers—Tadaris Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmett Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith – were fired by the Memphis Police Department after an internal investigation found they used excessive force and failed to intervene or provide assistance as required by the agency’s policy.
Lawyers for the officials have urged the community to avoid rushing to judgment. Representative of Mr. Blake Ballin. The videos “raised as many questions as they answered,” Mills said in a statement.
The Memphis Police Association, the union representing police, said in a written statement that the group condemned “the abuse of any citizen or abuse of power.”
“We have confidence in the criminal justice system,” Lt. union president Essica Cage-Rosario said. “That belief is what we will rely on in the days, weeks and months ahead to ensure the full story is revealed.”
Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. after the video was released. Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said two representatives who appeared in the video had been “removed” pending an investigation after he became concerned about what he saw. Separately, the Memphis Fire Department said two of its employees are also under investigation for their actions at the scene.
gentlemen. On the night of January 1, Nichols was pulled over. 7 as he headed to the home in the southeast corner of Memphis where he lived with his mother and stepfather. gentlemen. Nichols, who was pulled from the car by police, can be heard in the video saying: “I just want to go home.”
gentlemen. Nichols, who fled on foot, was kicked, hit with a baton and pepper-sprayed when police caught up with him, at one point screaming, “Mom! Mom! Mom!”
The video shows the officers escalating their use of force and issuing conflicting orders, repeatedly demanding Mr. Nichols showed his hands, even as other officers put his arms behind his back and another officer punched and kicked him. After the police pepper sprayed and beat Mr. Nichols, they left him sitting on the ground unattended, handcuffed, and when the medical staff arrived, they stood by for over 16 minutes without any treatment.
An independent autopsy commissioned by his family found Mr. Nichols “bleeded profusely from severe beatings,” according to preliminary findings.
When police departments across the country responded, law enforcement officials said the behavior shown in the video went against the training officers were trained to do. “What I saw in that video was incorrect,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Gerald Woodyard, the commanding officer for South Los Angeles. “What’s going on in their heads, I don’t know.”
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Enforcement Research Forum and an expert on law enforcement practice, called police actions “the definition of excessive force.” Ed Obayashi, a police training expert and attorney who investigates the use of force, said the severity of what he saw in the video was shocking. “I’ve never seen anyone being propped up and beaten on purpose,” he said.
Yet the video reflects something poignantly familiar as the country has grappled with high-profile cases of fatal encounters between black men and women and police officers, including George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.
“What I saw on video last night shocked me to the core, but I can’t say I’ve ever Never seen.”
Activists and others saw the video as an indictment both on the country’s policing culture and on the individual officers featured in the video. “At this point, it’s kind of the norm,” said Kori John, a teacher in Brooklyn. “Black people are destroyed by police, even by black police officers.”
gentlemen. Nichols’ family has called for legislation requiring officers to intervene if they see colleagues using excessive force. They also asked the Memphis Police Department to disband a specialized team that patrols high-crime areas, the Scorpion Squad, whose officers charged in Mr. Memphis. Nichols’ death was part of that. On Saturday, Memphis police officials announced the department was deactivating the unit.
In Sacramento, Mr. Nichols grew up before moving to Memphis, where the family planned to hold a candlelight vigil on Monday as local authorities urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully. Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the video filled him with “anger, sadness and disgust,” and the city’s police chief, Kathy Lester, called the actions of Memphis police officers “inhumane and inexcusable.” “The horrific behavior displayed by these officers does not reflect the values of this office or law enforcement as a whole,” said Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper.
In Memphis, in the days before the video was released, city officials, civic leaders and Mr. Nichols’ family implored the community not to let the protest become destructive. Relatively quick criminal charges, sir. Nichols’ family applauded and may have helped stop the blaze.
Even so, the anger and hurt remained, leading some demonstrators to mobilize Friday night and plan more protests in the coming days.
Hunter Dempster, an organizer with Decarcerate Memphis, an organization that promotes accountability and fairness in the criminal justice system, said he and others are closing down State 55 from Memphis to Arkansas International Highway Bridge because they are “tired of empty promises”.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “what can we do?”
Many people described watching the video as painful. “I can’t believe no one thought ‘we don’t have to hit this guy all the time,'” Social Liberation Party organizer Nino Brown said during a vigil for Trump. Nichols in Chicago.
Others, including Ms. Zhang’s Brooklyn teacher John, decided not to watch it, saying the burden of watching the trauma outweighed any benefits of watching it.
“I don’t want to see it — I can’t see it,” she said. “It’s so heartbreaking. We’ve seen that video many times before.”
Reported by jesus jimenez and Jessica Jaglois from Memphis; Roberto Chiarito from Chicago; Sean Hubler from Sacramento; Sean Keenan from Atlanta; Douglas Morino from Los Angeles; and nirambola, Hurubimeco and Wesley Parnell from New York. Mike Ives Also contributed reporting.