(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — Tyre Nichols died at the age of 29 on Jan. 10, three days after a confrontation with police during a traffic stop arrest in Memphis, Tennessee.
The five Memphis Police Department officers involved in his arrest — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were fired and then charged with second-degree murder in connection with Nichols’ death.
Body camera footage of his alleged beating by the former officers, which is set to be released Friday, has been described as “appalling,” “deplorable,” “heinous,” “violent” and “troublesome on every level” by the attorney for the Nichols family.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Jan 29, 3:16 PM EST
No body-worn camera video footage lost: City officials
All of the police body-worn camera footage from the fatal traffic stop of Tyre Nichols has been accounted for, the city of Memphis said in a statement on Sunday.
The initial traffic stop of Nichols involved three officers, including one who did not activate his body-worn camera, city officials said. That camera was not turned back on before the officer left the intersection where the traffic stop occurred, officials said.
Video from the body-worn camera of a third officer was preserved and titled “Video 1” in the public release of it on Friday, officials said.
Only two body-worn cameras were activated after police officers chased and caught Nichols, city officials said. A stationary city security camera captured the officers beating Nichols, city officials said. Those videos, described as Videos 3 and 4, were released to the public.
-ABC News’ Stephanie Wash and Whitney Lloyd
Jan 28, 5:10 PM EST
‘There is more to the story,’ state rep says
During a press event with other state and local leaders on Saturday, Tennessee state Rep. G.A. Hardaway said he has questions that have not been answered regarding the timeline and logistics of the Nichols case.
“There is more to the story, and I think that the citizens of Memphis and Shelby County deserve to know the whole story,” Hardaway, who represents Memphis, said.
Hardaway said the “only quick turnaround” from police in the case was the information that five officers received administrative discipline. He called for more clarity regarding the chain of command as it pertains to the notification of car chases and violent encounters.
“You can’t get the trust of Memphians and Shelby Countians unless you’re truthful, and you can’t be truthful if you’re not transparent,” he said.
–with ABC News’ Jianna Cousin
Jan 28, 4:43 PM EST
Memphis Police’s SCORPION Unit deactivated
The Memphis Police Department has deactivated its SCORPION Unit, the task force at the center of Nichols’ death, the department said Saturday.
The decision came after Chief Cerelyn Davis met with other members of the unit, who agreed with the deactivation, according to a statement from the department.
“In the process of listening intently to the family of Tyre Nichols, community leaders, and the uninvolved officers who have done quality work in their assignments, it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION Unit,” the statement said.
All five officers fired and charged in connection with Nichols’ death were in the unit, which had been inactive since the fatal encounter.
The 40-officer SCORPION unit, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods, launched in November 2021 and focused on “high crime hotspots,” the department said at the time.
Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, the attorneys representing the family, had repeatedly called to end the unit.
“You have a man literally laying down in distress, dying, and people are just talking like this is business as usual. Had Tyre not succumbed to his injuries, how many more times would they have done this and how many times have they done it before?” he told ABC News on Friday.
Crump and Romanucci said in a joint statement Saturday that they and Nichols’ family found the disbandment of the unit “to be both appropriate and proportional to the tragic death of Tyre Nichols, and also a decent and just decision for all citizens of Memphis.”
Jan 28, 2:14 PM EST
Obama reacts to ‘vicious, unjustified beating’
Former President Barack Obama called on people to “reimagine public safety” in response to Nichols’ fatal encounter with police.
“The vicious, unjustified beating of Tyre Nichols and his ultimate death at the hands of five Memphis police officers is just the latest, painful reminder of how far America still has to go in fixing how we police our streets,” he said in a joint statement with Michelle Obama on Twitter that included a selfie of Nichols by water. “Along with mourning Tyre and supporting his family, it’s up to all of us to mobilize for lasting change.”
Jan 28, 10:49 AM EST
‘We continue to urge caution,’ lawyer for one of accused in Nichols case says
The attorney representing former Memphis Police Officer Desmond Mills, one of the five charged in Tyre Nichols’ death, released a statement saying the videos “produced as many questions as they have answers,” Blake Ballin, an attorney for Mills said.
“Some of the questions that remain will require a focus on Desmond Mills’s individual actions; on what Desmond knew and what he was able to see when he arrived late to the scene; on what Desmond knew and what he was able to see after he was pepper sprayed; and on whether Desmond’s actions crossed the lines that were crossed by other officers during this incident,” Ballin said.
“We continue to urge caution and patience in judging Desmond Mills’s actions. We are confident that the questions of whether Desmond crossed the lines that others crossed and whether he committed the crimes charged will be answered with a resounding no,” Ballin added.
Jan 27, 10:45 PM EST
Kamala Harris: Images ‘open wounds that will never fully heal’
Vice President Kamala Harris reacted to the footage of Nichols’ confrontation with police officers.
“Tyre Nichols should have made it home to his family. Yet, once again, America mourns the life of a son and father brutally cut short at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve,” she said in a statement. “The footage and images released tonight will forever be seared in our memories, and they open wounds that will never fully heal.”
Jan 27, 9:52 PM EST
Nichols’ family speaks with ABC News about footage
Tyre Nichols’ family spoke exclusively with ABC News’ Elwyn Lopez following the release of the body camera footage of his encounter with police.
Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, said the footage justified that his son was not a threat to the officers.
“For an individual to weigh 150 pounds and be brutalized by five officers, [it] is unheard of and we need the public to see it,” he told ABC News.
Wells also called for the prosecution of everyone who was seen in the video, including paramedics and other unidentified officers.
When asked about the part of the footage where Nichols was heard crying for his mother, RowVaughn Wells, she told ABC News that she wasn’t there for her son.
“I had this very bad stomach pain pit and I didn’t know what it was at the time that night,” she said. “I didn’t realize that I was feeling my son’s pain.”
Ben Crump, the attorney representing the family, said the video also raised more questions concerning the other officers who are seen confronting Nichols.
He also criticized the attitude of the first responders seen following the beating.
“They were so nonchalant about everything,” he said.
Jan 27, 9:32 PM EST
2 deputies at scene relieved of duties pending investigation
Following the footage’s release, two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies who were at the scene of the police confrontation have been relieved of their duties pending an investigation, the county’s sheriff announced.
“Having watched the videotape for the first time tonight, I have concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols,” Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. said in a statement on Twitter.
Bonner said he has launched an internal investigation into their conduct “to determine what occurred and if any policies were violated.”
Both are relieved of duty pending the investigation’s outcome, he said.
Jan 27, 9:22 PM EST
Grizzlies hold moment of silence for Nichols
The Memphis Grizzlies held a moment of silence for Nichols before Friday night’s NBA game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.
In a pre-game presser, Jenkins was it was “devastating”, “another example of police brutality taking the life of one of our own” and “hard to process.”
In a pre-game presser ahead of the release of the footage, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said it was “devastating”, “another example of police brutality taking the life of one of our own” and “hard to process.”
“A lot of emotion,” Jenkins said.
Jan 27, 8:50 PM EST
Police departments react to video footage
Some major police departments released statements condemning the actions of the former officers seen in the body camera video of Tyre Nichols’ encounter.
The LAPD tweeted a statement from Chief of Police Michel R. Moore, who called the ex-cop’s actions “incredibly disturbing, cruel and inhumane.”
“The violation of trust tarnishes our bade and has a caustic effect on the public’s trust,” Moore said in his statement.
Acting New York State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli also condemned the former officers.
“We are outraged and sickened, and we also understand the frustration being felt by the public,” he said in a statement.
Jan 27, 8:41 PM EST
EMTs not visible in video until over 22 minutes after beating ends
Among the four videos released by the city, the overhead surveillance wide-angle shot taken from a city surveillance camera offers a bird’s-eye view of the beating. The footage is graphic and contains images that are disturbing.
Based on that footage, it appears that roughly 20 minutes lapse between the ending of the beating and the officers’ first attempts to render aid to Nichols. EMTs are not visible in the video until more than 22 minutes after the end of the beating.
Additionally, there appears to be several more officers on the scene other than the five who were fired and charged in this case. Shortly after the beating ends, several other officers can be seen in the video. Those officers have not been identified. The local district attorney has said that more charges could be possible in the case.
-ABC News’ Whitney Lloyd
Jan 27, 8:31 PM EST
Protests begin in Memphis, other cities
Protests following the release of the body camera footage began in Memphis with crowds gathering in the streets and calling Tyre Nichols’ name.
The demonstrations were so far peaceful, but officers were on hand.
Similar protests also took place in Washington, D.C , Philadelphia, Boston and Times Square.
There were no immediate reports of arrests at any of the protests in the other cities.
Jan 27, 7:55 PM EST
DA explains why video release was delayed
Shelby County DA Steven Mulroy released a statement following the release of the body camera footage.
Mulroy said the video was delayed because “it it was important to make sure witnesses spoke first from their memory and nothing else.”
“As D.A., I have always sought to balance out the rightful demands of the community with protecting the integrity of our investigation and prosecution,” Mulroy said in a statement.
The DA reiterated calls for peaceful protest as the investigation continues.
“It’s my hope that this tragedy can lead to a broader conversation on police reform,” he said.
-ABC News’ Whitney Lloyd
Jan 27, 7:03 PM EST
Bodycam footage released
Memphis officials have now released the footage of Nichols’ confrontation with police.
Nichols’ family, who saw the footage earlier this week with their attorneys, supported its public release.
Jan 27, 6:47 PM EST
Biden speaks with Nichols’ family ahead of bodycam video release
President Joe Biden spoke with Nichols’ mother and stepfather in a phone call Friday ahead of the footage’s public release.
“He was a hell of a kid, a handsome boy,” Biden said.
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, told Biden that Nichols had her name tattooed on his arm.
“I do know that,” Biden said. “I love it.”
Ben Crump, the family’s attorney, said on the call that the video will “evoke strong emotion,” and urged U.S. lawmakers to watch.
“This gives you another opportunity to call for them to come back and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, so we can try to prevent the next Tyre Nichols from happening,” Crump said.
“We’re in full agreement,” Biden said, noting that he passed an executive order on police reform, “but we got to get it for local police.”
As he departed the White House for Camp David Friday evening, Biden recapped his call with Nichols’ mother, which he said lasted about 10 to 15 minutes.
“I told her that I was going to be making the case to the Congress they should pass the George Floyd act. We should get this under control,” he said. “I can only do so much in the executive order at the federal level.”
The president also recounted that Wells called for peaceful protests.
“I’m obviously very concerned about it, but I think she has made a very strong plea,” he said.
–with ABC News’ Molly Nagle
Jan 27, 5:55 PM EST
Attorney representing ex-Memphis cop speaks out
The attorney representing former Memphis Police Officer Desmond Mills, one of the five charged in Tyre Nichols’ death, spoke with ABC News Friday evening.
Blake Ballin said his client was “maintaining a lot of strength” in the last two weeks and asking how he can cooperate with the investigation.
Ballin said he couldn’t comment on the details about the incident but contended that he didn’t believe that Mills delivered the fatal blow.
The attorney added Mills was a responding officer and not the first to arrive on the scene.
“Everybody played their own role. I suspect you’ll see officers crossed the line but not Desmond,” Ballin said.
The attorney said he didn’t see the body camera footage of the incident, which is slated to be released to the public later tonight.
-ABC News’ Stephanie Ramos
Jan 27, 3:56 PM EST
Biden spoke with Nichols’ family, has not seen video
President Joe Biden has not seen the Tyre Nichols video that’s set to be released to the public Friday evening, but the president has spoken to Nichols’ family, according to the White House.
“He’s been briefed, but he has not seen the video, nor has anyone at the White House seen the video,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday.
Biden spoke with Nichols’ mother and stepfather Friday afternoon to offer his condolences, a White House official said.
Jean Pierre reiterated that Biden has echoed Nichols’ family’s calls for calm and peaceful protests. But the White House is “in coordination with the relevant agencies to ensure they prepare if protests become violent,” she added.
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle
Jan 27, 3:23 PM EST
Memphis Fire Department reviewing the video
The Memphis Fire Department said it received the video of Tyre Nichols’ traffic stop on Friday and is currently reviewing the footage.
Two Memphis Fire Department employees who responded to the scene where Nichols was injured have been relieved of duty in the wake of Nichols’ death.
The Memphis Fire Department said its investigation will conclude early next week.
Jan 27, 1:06 PM EST
Nichols family ‘very satisfied’ with charges
Tyre Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, said at a news conference Friday that he’s “very satisfied with the charges” against the five police officers, including second-degree murder.
Although Wells initially said he wanted to see the officers charged with first-degree murder, he said, “As the charges were told to us and they explained to us what the difference between murder one and murder two was, we’re very satisfied with the charges.”
Wells pleaded with the public to protest peacefully.
“We want peace. We do not want any type of uproar,” he said.
Wells added, “The family is very satisfied with the process, with the police chief, the D.A. They acted very, very quickly in this case. We are very, very pleased with that. Other cases drag on, but this is a special case. We had a special son.”
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said she didn’t watch the body camera video of her son’s confrontation with police and urged people to not let their children see it.
Law enforcement, Nichols’ family and the family attorneys have already seen the video that’s set to be released to the public Friday evening.
RowVaughn Wells said the five officers charged in connection to her son’s death disgraced their families, but said she’ll pray for them and their families.
She added, “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.”
Jan 27, 12:55 PM EST
Family attorney: ‘This kidnapping charge — it is terrorism’
Tyre Nichols family attorney Antonio Romanucci stressed the fact that the charges against the Memphis police officers include kidnapping.
By Tennessee law, he said, “the definition that we are dealing with here on this kidnapping charge — it is terrorism.”
“When you think of 9/11, what’s the word that comes to mind? Terrorism. When you think of other heinous acts that have happened in churches across this country, any act of terrorism, what does that instill in you? That, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition that we are dealing with here on this kidnapping charge,” he said at Friday’s press conference. “It is terrorism. It was designed to terrorize the victim.”
Family attorney Ben Crump added, “One of the things that must be stated about the kidnapping charge … when you all see this video, you’re going to see Tyre Nichols is calling out for his mom.”
“He calls out three times for his mother. His last words on this Earth is, ‘mom,’” Crump said. “When you think about that kidnapping charge, [Nichols] said, ‘I just want to go home.’ I mean, it’s a traffic stop, for God’s sake.”
Jan 27, 12:31 PM EST
Ben Crump: ‘This is the blueprint going forward’
Ben Crump, an attorney for Tyre Nichols’ family, is applauding the charges, including second-degree murder, that were “swiftly” brought against the five Memphis police officers involved in Nichols’ traffic stop.
“When we look at how these five Black officers, who were caught on camera committing a crime, and when we look at how fast the police chief and the police department terminated them,” Crump said at a news conference Friday. “And 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.”
“We won’t accept less going forward,” Crump said.
“We have a precedent that has been set here in Memphis,” he said.
Jan 27, 11:48 AM EST
FBI director watched video, says he was ‘appalled’
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday that he’s watched the video and “was appalled.”
“I’m struggling to find a stronger word, but I can tell you I was appalled,” Wray said.
He said alerts have been sent to FBI field offices across the U.S. instructing them to work closely with state and local partners “in the event of something getting out of hand” after the video is released to the public Friday evening.
Wray added, “There is a right way and a wrong way in this country to express being upset or angry about something, and we need to make sure that if there is that sentiment expressed here, it is done in the right way.”
Jan 27, 10:36 AM EST
Memphis police chief says video left her ‘horrified,’ ‘disgusted’
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said video of the traffic stop that allegedly led to Tyre Nichols’ death left her “horrified,” “disgusted,” “sad” and “confused.”
“In my 36 years … I would have to say I don’t think I’ve ever been more horrified and disgusted, sad … and, to some degree, confused,” Davis told ABC News’ Good Morning America on Friday.
When pressed on why the video left her “confused,” she replied that it was “just in the level of aggression and response to what had occurred in this traffic stop and is still very unclear, you know, as to the real reason for the stop in the first place.”
Davis said “there was much discussion about when an appropriate time for the video to be released,” and “we felt that Friday would be better.”
“We’re taking under consideration the reaction of the community that could potentially take place and ensuring that our schools, you know, are out, most business folks would be on the way home,” the chief explained.
“Even though this is a very, very difficult video to watch, it was never a thought that we would not release this video,” Davis added. “We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t released too prematurely because we wanted to ensure that the DA’s office, the TBI [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] and also the FBI had an opportunity to cross some of the hurdles that they had to in their investigation. And we’re sort of at a point now that the DA has made his statements in reference to charges of these officers, that this is a safe time for us to release the video.”
Jan 27, 10:28 AM EST
Memphis calls for ‘safe’ protest
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said she expects residents to protest upon the release of the body-camera footage, which she called “heinous, reckless and inhumane,” though said “we need to ensure our community is safe in this process.”
“None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens,” Davis said in a statement Thursday, following the arrest of the five officers involved in Nichol’s arrest.
Authorities have warned law enforcement agencies of the reaction that may transpire when the official video footage is released.
Tennessee Sheriff’s Association President Jeff Bledsoe sent out a letter to Jonathan Thompson, the National Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director/CEO, on Wednesday anticipating the public reaction to the video’s release.
“Due to the nature of the video’s contents it is believed it may spark responses outside of the traditional protests,” the letter read. “There is a public safety risk potential to communities and peace officers expanding outside of the Shelby County (Memphis) TN area.”
Other cities are also anticipating protests upon the release of the footage.
“We are closely monitoring the events in Memphis and are prepared to support peaceful protests in our city,” the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement Thursday. “We understand and share in the outrage surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols. Police officers are expected to conduct themselves in a compassionate, competent, and constitutional manner and these officers failed Tyre, their communities and their profession. We ask that demonstrations be safe and peaceful.”
In Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Police Department said it has “fully activated all sworn personnel in preparation for possible First Amendment activities.”
In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams told a local radio station on Friday, “It is imperative that New Yorkers exercise their right to free speech in a very peaceful way — and that is what we are expecting from the city.”
Jan 27, 10:24 AM EST
Nichols’ family reacts to bodycam footage
After viewing the body camera footage Monday morning along with their attorney, Nichols’ family said they saw the police kick, pepper spray and use a stun gun on their son all while Nichols repeatedly asked, “What did I do?”
“They handcuffed him and set him — propped him up on the car. And as he fell over they’d tell him, ‘Sit back up,'” Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, told ABC News earlier this week. “You know, and he would slump back over again and they would make him sit back up. They never rendered any aid.”
Nichols’ mother, Rowvaughn Wells, told ABC News that she could not watch the entire video.
“Once the video started and I heard my son’s voice, I lost it. I couldn’t stay in the room. All I heard him say was, ‘What did I do?’ And once I heard that, I lost it,” she said.
An independent autopsy, completed by a forensic pathologist hired by the family’s attorneys, found that Nichols suffered from “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to the family.
Jan 27, 10:22 AM EST
Timing of body camera footage release
The city plans to publicly release the body camera footage of Nichols’ arrest sometime after 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.
“As we have said all along, we wanted to ensure the proper legal steps were followed and that the family of Mr. Nichols had the opportunity to view the video footage privately before we released it to the public,” Strickland said in a statement Thursday night.
“It is clear that these officers violated the department’s policies and training. But we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again,” he continued, noting the city is initiating an independent review of the specialized units’ training, policies and operations.
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