In a press conference Monday, the family of Tyre Nichols shared their reactions to the body camera footage of the traffic stop that left him with life-threatening injuries. Their response gave a frightening preview of what we can expect to see in the videos.
After two weeks of being left in the dark, Nichols’ family was finally able to see what led their loved one to fight for his life in the hospital. Attorney Benjamin Crump and co-counsel attorney Antonio Romanucci called the footage “appalling” and “heinous” to watch. Crump said Nichols was tased and pepper-sprayed in addition to the beating and being restrained, per the video. The attorneys also speculated that the officers may have been from the organized crime unit because some arrived in unmarked patrol cars.
“He was defenseless the entire time. He was a human piñata for those police officers. It was an unadulterated, unabashed non-stop beating of this young boy for three minutes,” Romanucci said. “What we saw was an unnecessary intentionality of violence and cruelty…”
Nichol’s parents, Rodney and RowVaughn Wells, said the footage was difficult to watch but also allowed them to accept that they’ve lost their son. “No father, no mother should have to witness what I saw today,” said Rodney. He also defended his son from critics who allege Nichols attempted to flee the scene. “Our son ran because he was scared for his life.”
Read more about the conference from Yahoo! News:
Crump says authorities are asking for 1 to 2 weeks for the full video to be released so they can provide a thorough investigation and ensure the family receives justice. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating, according to a Jan. 17 statement from the city.
Nichols’ family wants the officers involved in Nichols’ arrest to be charged with first-degree murder.
“You should not be killed because of a simple traffic stop,” Crump said. “However you would treat our white brothers and sisters when you have a traffic stop treat our black brothers and sisters the same way.”
Based off the graphic descriptions of the footage, the public can expect another gruesome display of police violence. All five officers involved were fired on department policy violations including the improper use of force. One reporter asked Crump to address the elephant in the room: the fact every officer involved was a Black man.
“It doesn’t matter the hand who pulled the trigger and killed your son, whether it was a Black hand or a white hand. The pain is still the same. People have this misnomer that we are anti white cop. No, we’re anti bad cops,” Crump responded.
The “bad” cops weren’t the only ones under review. According to the Commercial Appeal, the two firefighters who initially provided care to Nichols were “relieved of duty” upon the multiple investigations into the traffic stop.
Nichols’ case has caused quite the ripple effect in the city of Memphis. If only every case was handled this way.