Editor’s note: This post contains graphic descriptions of violence.
The newly released videos of Tyre Nichols’ police beating captured the brutality that his family and authorities foreshadowed: He was punched and kicked while being restrained. He pleaded to go home and repeatedly yelled for his mom.
The videos show portions of both the initial traffic stop on the night of Jan. 7 and a second altercation just minutes later, after Nichols fled the first location on foot. Nichols required hospitalization after the encounter and died on Jan. 10.
The clips also do not answer why authorities used such force on Nichols, who did not appear to fight back, and why they felt compelled to confront him twice. But the videos do shed light on just how violent the fatal confrontation was.
Here are some key revelations from the footage:
Officers repeatedly threatened Nichols with violence: Videos from the encounters capture multiple officers threatening Nichols with violence while he appears to comply with their commands or is already on the ground.
A body camera video that captures the initial encounter between Nichols and police shows the officer getting out of his car with his gun drawn and captures an officer yelling for Nichols to “Get the fuck out of the car.”
Nichols is heard saying, “I didn’t do anything,” and later, as he gets on the ground, “All right, I’m on the ground.”
An officer yells at him, “Bitch, put your hands behind your back before I… I’m going to knock your ass the fuck out.” Nichols says, “I’m just trying to go home.”
Officers struck him nine times in under four minutes: The video taken from a remotely controlled camera on a neighborhood utility pole shows Memphis officers continuously hitting Nichols at least nine times, without visible provocation.
No one rendered aid in critical minutes after beating: When officers let go of Nichols, he rolls on his back and is then dragged along the pavement and propped up in a sitting position against the side of a car, where he remains largely ignored by the officers on scene.
Paramedics appear to show up on scene about 10 minutes into the video.
Roughly 23 minutes pass from the time Nichols appeared to be subdued after the beating before a stretcher arrives on scene.
No officer intervened: According to Memphis Police Department policies, officers have a duty to intervene.
“Any member who directly observes another member engaged in dangerous or criminal conduct or abuse of a subject shall take reasonable action to intervene,” according to a policy page of the department.
“There’s a point where you have to intercede and say either ‘Stop’ or physically step between the officer that’s assaulting the person and that actual individual. And that didn’t happen,” former New York police Lt. Darrin Porcher said in analysis.