Tire Nichols during his arrest by police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, in a photo from a sequence filmed by a camera carried by a police officer, January 7, 2023. HANDOUT / MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT / AFP
“Mum, Mum…” Tire Nichols called to his mother in a desperate, high-pitched gasp. This 29-year-old African American father was brutally beaten by police officers in Memphis, Tennessee on the evening of January 7 while driving home. He died of his injuries in hospital three days later.
On Friday, January 27, local authorities released a lengthy montage of multiple video sequences showing the arrest in its entirety, sending a shock wave through the city and mobilizing all national channels.
Two separate incidents occurred, documented by both a police officer’s body-worn camera and surveillance cameras. During the first, Tire Nichols suffered a botched attempt at immobilisation after being pulled from his vehicle, with no resistance, a complete disproportion of violent gestures and plenty of verbal abuse. “I just want to go home…” Terrified, he managed to escape on foot.
Also read: Death of Tire Nichols in Memphis: the video of his brutal arrest has been released in the United States
He was found at a second location, a deserted street, around 8:30 p.m., first held by two police officers, the victim was tear gassed, kicked and punched, then hit with an expanding baton. He was picked up and hit on the head. Then Tire Nichols was left handcuffed on the ground and dragged on the ground to a car. The minutes passed. Almost as shocking as the violence is the police’s indifference to the victim in distress, their dehumanization that grips.
Impunity for some police services
Although released, the five black police officers in question were fired and charged with extremely serious charges, including murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping. “They are all responsible,” local prosecutor Steve Mulroy said, though their exact role in the beating varied. “Where was her humanity? They’re hitting my son like a piñata,” his tearful mother told CNN, referring to the decorated object full of candy and toys, which is smashed with sticks, as is Mexican tradition. Tire Nichols skateboarded a lot and loved photography.
Authorities decided not to release the video until 7 p.m. Friday night, prompting a kind of somber count on news channels. City Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said that by early evening, businesses would close and children would return home safely. It is the pessimism that reigned over the effect of the confusing images. These also justified the swiftness of sanctions against the perpetrators, who belonged to a Scorpion team, an acronym for units in charge of day-to-day crime.
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