The United States is bracing for mass protests and public outrage as police in the city of Memphis, Tennessee, are expected to release video footage of the arrest and beating of a Black motorist, the latest act of police violence to shake the country.
Five Memphis police officers face charges of second-degree murder, among others, in relation to the killing of Tyre Nichols, 29, who died in hospital on January 10 after he was beaten during a traffic stop three days earlier.
The video, set to be released on Friday after 6pm local time (00:00 GMT on Saturday), was expected to include footage captured by police body-worn cameras, cameras mounted on dashboards of police vehicles, and security cameras on utility poles in the vicinity of the fatal incident.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the video shows Nichols crying out for his mother.
“You’re going to see acts that defy humanity. You’re going to see the disregard for life, [for] duty of care, that we’re all sworn to, and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement,” Davis said during an interview with CNN.
Nichols’s death has recalled the 2020 killing of George Floyd, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Floyd’s killing, which was captured on video, set off mass protests around the world demanding an end to police violence and anti-Black racism.
The video of the altercation that left Nichols dead also has drawn comparisons to the 1991 Rodney King beating video, which triggered days of riots in Los Angeles that left dozens dead.
“Tyre Nichols = Rodney King, Part 2,” Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer representing the family, tweeted on Friday morning. “The lack of humanity shown to Tyre Nichols is so troubling on every level.”
The five officers charged in Nichols’s death — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — were dismissed from their posts on January 21 after an interview investigation found they breached multiple policies, including the use of excessive force.
Four of the former officers have posted bail and have been released from jail, a local CBS affiliate reported early on Friday. Haley remained in jail on a $350,000 bond.
Tyre Nichols = Rodney King, Part 2
In addition to second-degree murder charges, they also are facing indictments of aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping.
During a news conference on Friday alongside the Nichols family, Crump applauded the authorities for bringing “very important charges” against the former officers, who are Black. He called for charges to be brought as quickly in other cases of police violence involving white officers.
“This is the blueprint going forward for any time any officers, whether they be Black or white, will be held accountable. No longer can you tell us we got to wait six months to a year, even though we’ve got a video of evidence of excessive force,” Crump said.
‘Beat to a pulp’
The exact circumstances of the incident remain unclear. After Nichols was pulled over by police, “an altercation” ensued in which officers doused him with pepper spray, and Nichols tried to flee on foot, local District Attorney Steve Mulroy said when announcing the charges against the ex-officers.
“They had beat him to a pulp,” Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, told CNN on Friday. “He had bruises all over him. His head was swollen like a watermelon. His neck was busting because of the swelling. They broke his neck.
“When I saw that, I knew my son was gone then. Even if he did live, he would have been a vegetable,” Wells said.
During Friday’s news conference, Wells said she still has not had time to grieve her son’s death. “This was not supposed to happen. My son was supposed to be with me today,” she said.
“No mother – no mother, no mother – should go through what I’m going through right now – no mother. To lose their child to the violent way that I lost my child.”
US President Joe Biden spoke to Wells and Nichols’s stepfather, Rodney Wells, on Friday and expressed his sympathies, the White House said. A day earlier, Biden said in a statement that the family deserved “a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his death”.
Biden also called for calm ahead of the video’s release. “As Americans grieve, the Department of Justice conducts its investigation, and state authorities continue their work, I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest,” he said on Thursday.
“Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable. Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.”
Davis, the Memphis police chief, said she anticipated those seeing the footage “to feel outrage” but appealed for calm.
“I expect our citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest, to demand action and results, but we need to ensure our community is safe in this process,” she said.
This content was originally published here.