The Memphis community was bracing for potential protests in response to the video release, with Memphis-Shelby County Schools canceling after-school activities Friday and Southwest Tennessee Community College moving to virtual classes Friday.
Wells called for people to protest peacefully during a candlelight vigil in Memphis’ Tobey Park on Thursday night. “I don’t want us burning up our cities, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” she said.
There were protests in Memphis on Friday, but no reports of any violence.
Three people were arrested in demonstrations in New York City after a police car was vandalized, police there said. There were also protests in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Dallas.
Romanucci described the video Monday as an “unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating” for three minutes. Crump has said it reminded him of “the Rodney King video,” referring to the 1991 bystander video of Los Angeles police officers beating a Black man.
Nichols’ mother spoke on her heartbreak in an interview aired Friday morning on CNN, saying by the time she got to the hospital and saw Nichols following the arrest, “He was already gone.”
“They had beat him to a pulp. 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, my son’s nose looked like an “S”, she said.
Crump said Nichols’ last words in the video were three “gut-wrenching screams for his mom.”
Davis described the incident as “heinous, reckless and inhumane” in a video statement Wednesday night.
“I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels,” she said. “I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights, as our police officers have taken an oath to do the opposite of what transpired on the video.”
Biden says he was ‘outraged and deeply pained’
After the videos were released, Biden said in a statement that he was outraged. He has called for a swift, full and transparent investigation, and spoke with Nichols’ parents earlier Friday.
“Like so many, I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death,” Biden said. “It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day.”
Police chiefs, public officials and mayors from across the country expressed outrage, condemned the actions of the officers, and said what happened to Nichols should never have occurred.
FBI Director Christopher Wray earlier Friday said that “I’ve seen the video myself and I will tell you I was appalled.”
Five officers involved in the case — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were fired last week after an administrative investigation found they violated department policy on use of force.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told reporters the former officers’ actions resulted in Nichols’ death.
Mulroy said that after an “initial altercation” when “pepper spray was deployed,” Nichols ran from the officers.
“There was another altercation at a nearby location, where serious injuries were experienced by Mr. Nichols,” Mulroy continued. “After some period of time of waiting around afterward, he was taken away by an ambulance.”
The video released Friday of the traffic stop does not show what precipitated the stop.
The fired officers were charged Thursday with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression and one count of aggravated assault.
In the Friday news conference, Nichols’ family and attorneys praised the swift charges and investigation.
“We look at how swiftly the district attorney brought charges against them in less than 20 days. Then we want to proclaim that this is the blueprint going forward for any time any officers, whether they be black or white, will be held accountable,” Crump said.
All five are out of jail after posting bond as of Friday morning. Bean, Mills and Smith posted $250,000 bond; Haley and Martin posted $350,000 bond.
Multiple attempts to reach the officers for comment since they were fired were unsuccessful.
After the videos were released Friday, Blake Ballin, an attorney for Mills, said that he and Mills would review them together “at the appropriate time.”
“A thorough investigation of all available angles is needed before providing context or comment,” Ballin said. “My heart goes out to the Nichols family and the entire city of Memphis.”
Attorneys for Mills and Martin said their clients plan to plead not guilty. It was unclear if the others have retained legal representation.
The Memphis Police Association said in a statement on Facebook Friday night that it was committed to “the administration of justice” and that it did not condone any mistreatment of citizens.
“We have faith in the Criminal Justice System. That faith is what we will lean on in the coming days, weeks, and months to ensure the totality of circumstances is revealed,” the statement added.
Preliminary findings in an autopsy conducted by a forensic pathologist for Nichols’ family show he was severely beaten before he died, the family’s attorneys have said. The Shelby County medical examiner’s office hasn’t released an official cause of death.
Nichols’ case is being investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Justice Department, which launched a civil rights inquiry into the traffic stop.
Other Tennessee agencies associated with the events of Jan. 7 are also investigating actions by their members.
Friday night two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies were relieved of duty pending the outcome of an investigation, Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. said.
“I have concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols,” Bonner, who said he first saw the videos Friday, said in a statement.
He said an internal investigation has been launched to determine what occurred and if any policies were broken, and they will remain off duty until it is concluded.
The Memphis Fire Department also said that it had not received full access to the footage until Friday.
“The department is currently reviewing the footage and will be concluding our internal investigation early next week,” the fire department said.
A department spokesperson said Monday that two Memphis Fire Department personnel described as being involved in Nichols’ “initial patient care” were “relieved of duty” amid an internal investigation into his death.
Mulroy, the Shelby County District Attorney, said in a statement Friday night that the video’s release was delayed so witnesses could speak “first from their memory and nothing else.”
“It’s my hope that this tragedy can lead to a broader conversation on police reform,” he said.