Bodycam footage of Tyre Nichols' violent arrest released by Memphis policeget the free app
Officials in Memphis on Friday released police video from the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man whose death earlier this month has led to second-degree murder charges against five officers, who were fired over the incident. Nichols died three days after what his family and authorities described as a brutal encounter that stemmed from a traffic stop.
The four videos — posted on the city of Memphis' Vimeo account shortly before 7 p.m. EST — were taken from police body cameras and street surveillance cameras. They show officers first removing Nichols from a vehicle after pulling him over, an initial struggle when Nichols breaks loose and runs away from the officers, and then disturbing images of Nichols being restrained and beaten by five officers at a suburban intersection.
The unsettling footage will likely generate a wave of national outrage and add to calls for police reform. Mostly peaceful protests were already taking place in cities across the country Friday night.
The videos show different angles of Nichols being pepper sprayed, kicked in the head while being restrained, punched and struck multiple times with a baton.
The first body camera video shows a police officer approaching a car stopped at a red light with his gun drawn while Nichols is being forcibly pulled out and pushed to the ground by another officer. An officer threatens to break his hands if he doesn't put them down.
As the officers scream and try to restrain him, Nichols remains relatively calm.
"OK, I'm on the ground," he says. "You guys are doing a lot, I'm just trying to go home."
The officers continue to push Nichols on the ground, when the officer wearing the body camera pulls out his Taser gun and points it at Nichols's leg. Soon after, another officer pepper sprays him, and that is when Nichols seems to break loose and run down a street.
A second video, taken from an elevated street surveillance camera, shows officers restraining and beating Nichols at a different location, a suburban intersection.
The video, which has no sound, shows two officers holding Nichols on the ground, when a third officer approaches and kicks Nichols in the face twice. A fourth officer deploys a retractable baton and begins beating Nichols, hitting him in the back. Nichols stands up and stumbles while being held by two officers, when another one punches him in the face several times until the blows make Nichols collapse.
The third video shows bodycam footage and audio of the beating, after officers detain Nichols at the intersection. While he is being restrained on the ground, the officer wearing the camera pepper sprays Nichols repeatedly.
"Mom, mom, mom!" Nichols screams as an officer yells, "give me your hands!"
The officer wearing the bodycam steps away from Nichols, breathing heavily, seemingly affected by the pepper spray. He then approaches the officers restraining Nichols and deploys the retractable baton.
"Watch out," he warns the officers. "I'm going to baton the f*** out of you," he yells at Nichols, hitting him three times, punctuating each blow with, "Give us your hands!" The crack of the baton is audible in the video.
The fourth video shows bodycam footage of an officer chasing and knocking Nichols to the ground at the intersection. At the one minute and 37-second mark, the video is almost entirely obscured — the camera seems to be blocked by something. But there is still audio, and Nichols can be heard screaming "Mom!" in the background.
The police keep shouting, "Give me your f****** hands, lay back, put your head back. Lay flat." Nichols gags and retches, apparently struggling trying to catch a breath, and one of the officers says, "breathe, man."
The view is obstructed for about four minutes, and at some point, there is the sound of handcuffs clicking.
"Get him up!" one of the officers says. Officers can be seen gathering at the intersection, with police lights and Nichols sitting on the street with his back against a gray car, his hands behind him. An officer shines a flashlight on his face a couple of times, and Nichols seems to be bleeding from the side of his head.
Nichols sits in the dark against the car, barely moving. At some point paramedics are seen walking up to him, propping him up as he slumps to the side. The footage shows at least a dozen officers gathered at the intersection, and some are recounting how they chased and restrained Nichols.
"S***, my knee," the officer wearing the bodycam complains. Another officer complains about his leg, and seems to be limping. "That m*****f***** was strong," a police officer says in the video.
"When I see that boy running bro, that m*****f***** ain't sorry no more," one of the officers says. Then another officer says, "Your camera is on."
Another officer claims Nichols reached and grabbed his gun. As paramedics examine Nichols, who is seen bloodied and struggling in pain, moving from side to side, someone tells him, "You can't go nowhere, you can't go nowhere."
Following the release of the video, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. announced Friday night that two deputies who had responded to the scene of Nichols' arrest had been "relieved of duty."
Bonner said that an "internal investigation" has been launched to determine if the deputies violated any policies. A sheriff's department spokesperson refused to identify the deputies when reached by CBS News, only disclosing that they were on paid leave.
CBS News has learned that investigators are still searching for more potential video evidence from surveillance cameras in an effort to determine – with more certainty – what sparked the confrontation.
The five former Memphis police officers were part of the department's SCORPION unit, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. The crime-suppression SCORPION teams patrolled in groups, and at times used justified low-level traffic stops as a way to find violent criminals, drugs or weapons, according to the department.
SCORPION had been "inactive" since the Nichols' arrest, police said, and on Saturday, the department confirmed that the unit had been "permanently deactivated."
Authorities, members of Nichols' family and their attorneys were shown the video before Friday's release.
Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, told "CBS Mornings" on Tuesday that she could not bear to watch it in full. "All I heard my son say was, 'What did I do?' I just lost it from there," she said.
"I've never seen the video, but what I've heard is very horrific, very horrific, and any of you who have children, please don't let them see it," Wells said during a press conference Friday afternoon.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn "CJ" Davis told NBC News on Friday the video was "horrific, alarming, disappointing, sad."
"There were times when he was laying, there were times when he was sat up, there were times when he was mumbling and saying words, but it was obvious he was not in control of his physical self," Davis added.
Family attorney Ben Crump said an independent autopsy they commissioned found Nichols suffered "extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating."
The five officers fired over Nichols' death — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — have been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, official misconduct and other offenses. Lawyers for Martin and Mills said their clients will plead not guilty.
Police had said Nichols fled the officers after he was pulled over on suspicion of reckless driving — an allegation that Davis told CNN earlier on Friday investigators haven't been able to substantiate.
President Biden spoke with the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols on Friday afternoon, the White House said. During the call with RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, Mr. Biden offered condolences from him and the first lady, and "commended the family's courage and strength," the White House said.
"She's obviously in enormous pain," Mr. Biden said of Nichols' mother. "…I told her I had some idea of what that loss was like, and that although it's impossible to believe now, but a time will come when his memory brings a smile before a tear."
In a statement following the video's release, Mr. Biden acknowledged that he had seen the "horrific" footage, and said that it left him "outraged and deeply pained," adding that the public should be "justifiably outraged."
"Those who seek justice should not to resort to violence or destruction," Mr. Biden's statement read. "Violence is never acceptable; it is illegal and destructive. I join Mr. Nichols' family in calling for peaceful protest."
Ahead of Friday's release, police officials in Memphis and other cities around the country prepared for the possibility of protests.
"When people actually see with their own eyes the kinds of things that occurred in this incident, there's an even greater potential for very serious public reaction," Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told "CBS Mornings" co-host Gayle King on Friday morning.
Nationwide protests mostly peaceful following release of Tyre Nichols arrest video
Mostly peaceful protests were held in cities nationwide in the wake of the release of video that showed the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
In Memphis, several dozen protesters briefly blocked both directions of the Interstate 55 bridge before eventually moving off the roadway, according to the CBS affiliate WREG-TV. There was no word of any arrests.
A crowd gathered in Washington D.C.'s Lafayette Square, near the White House, holding signs which read "Justice for Tyre Nichols."
Karen Hylton, the mother of Karon Hylton-Brown — who was involved in a fatal police chase in October 2020 — spoke at the rally, according to CBS affiliate WUSA-TV. Two officers were found guilty in Hylton-Brown's death last month.
"It reminds me that there's another mother that's crying, I cried before I came here," Hylton told WUSA.
The Metropolitan Police Department had reported Thursday that it had activated "all sworn personnel" in anticipation of the video's release.
In Dallas, a rally outside police department headquarters also remained peaceful, CBS DFW reported.
"Along with the rest of the world I am ashamed," Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said in a video message posted to social media Friday. "As law enforcement we take an oath to protect and serve. The actions that day broke, violated and tarnished that oath."
In New York City's Times Square, some protesters clashed with NYPD officers. CBS New York reported that at least three people were arrested. Photos showed one protester jumping on a squad car.
A large group of protesters also made their way through downtown Los Angeles. Aerial footage from CBS Los Angeles showed the protesters facing off with LAPD officers in riot gear a little after 9:30 p.m. local time as they blocked an intersection.
Memphis City Council member: "Emotions right now are raw"
Memphis City Council member Rhonda Logan spoke to CBS News about her reaction to the video of Tyre Nichols' violent arrest, the charges against five fired police officers, and the work that needs to be done to address reform.
Watch her interview in the video below. Warning: This video also contains violent and disturbing content. Viewer discretion is advised.
Former Memphis officer on the charged ex-cops, SCORPION unit
A former veteran Memphis city police officer who knew those involved in Tyre Nichols' violent arrest spoke to CBS News about the five ex-officers charged in the case, who were part of the department's SCORPION unit.
The former officer, who recently left the department after 10 years, spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation. He said he knew each of the charged ex-officers and worked closely at times with one of them.
"This is not an indication of who the department is," the former officer said. "We deal with very bad people. There are fights and foot chases but we all have an understanding when it's time to stop."
The SCORPION team is a specialized unit formed in 2021 to fight violent street crime. The name stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. There are more than two dozen officers assigned to SCORPION teams, who wear black hoodies and tactical black vests with "POLICE" emblazoned across the front and back, and drive dark colored Dodge Chargers marked with a SCORPION seal.
The crime-suppression teams patrol in groups and at times use justified low-level traffic stops as a way to find violent criminals, drugs or weapons.
"You have to be a go-getter, for the most part," to join the SCORPION unit, the former officer told CBS News. "You have to be someone who wants to make a difference, who wants to catch the bad guy."
-By Chrissy Hallowell and Pat Milton
Protesters gather in Times Square following release of Tyre Nichols arrest video
Dozens of New York City protesters gathered in Times Square Friday night following the release of video showing the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
At one point, video showed the Times Square protesters clashing with NYPD officers.
CBS New York reported that some arrests were made, but it was unclear how many people were taken into custody. There was no word of any injuries.
2 Shelby County deputies who responded to the scene after Tyre Nichols' arrest "relieved of duty"
Two deputies have been "relieved of duty" following the release of video showing the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. said.
Bonner released a statement Friday night on social media stating that the two deputies "appeared on the scene" following Nichols' arrest by Memphis police.
Bonner said that an "internal investigation" has been launched to determine if the deputies violated any policies. No further details were provided.
A sheriff's department spokesperson refused to identify the deputies when reached by CBS News, only saying that they had been paid leave.
Video shows Tyre Nichols screaming for his mother while being repeatedly punched, kicked by officers
Bodycam and surveillance video released Friday by the city of Memphis showed Tyre Nichols screaming for his mother while being repeatedly punched and kicked by Memphis police officers, just 80 yards from her home. He died Jan. 10, three days after the violent arrest.
"They need to see it. Everyone needs to see what the Memphis Police Department did to my son," Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, told CBS News.
Watch more in the video below. Warning: This video contains violent and disturbing content. Viewer discretion is advised:
Release of Tyre Nichols' arrest video has law enforcement agencies nationwide on high alert
Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. were on high alert for the release of surveillance video showing the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn "CJ" Davis told CBS News that she could only stomach watching the video once.
"It's very puzzling for me that I don't have the information that I need to at least understand what started this," Davis said. "It started at a 10 from the moment they got out of their cars."
Watch more in the video below. Warning: This video contains violent and disturbing content. Viewer discretion is advised.
Civil rights attorney: Diversity in police departments doesn't solve use-of-force issues
Civil rights attorney Alexis Hoag-Fordjour says simply increasing diversity in police departments doesn't reduce the use-of-force against Black people. The five Memphis police officers charged with murder in the case of Tyre Nichols are Black. Watch more in the video below:
Investigators searching for more video evidence
Investigators are still searching for more potential video evidence from surveillance cameras in an effort to determine – with more certainty – what sparked the confrontation which lead to Tyre Nichols' death, CBS News chief national affairs and justice correspondent Jeff Pegues has learned.
The FBI is also involved in the investigation.
The city of Memphis on Friday evening released four videos containing surveillance and bodycam video footage.
Memphis Grizzlies organization "distraught" over Tyre Nichols' death
The Memphis Grizzlies and the Minnesota Timberwolves held a moment of silence for Tyre Nichols prior to their game Friday evening at the Target Center in Minneapolis. A photo of Nichols was displayed on a large screen overhead.
On Friday afternoon, before the release of the video, the Grizzlies issued a statement that read:
"We are distraught to find ourselves dealing with a needless loss of life due to police brutality, and this time it was one of Memphis's own. We're thinking of the Nichols family and friends, and share the pain being felt throughout our community. So, let's support each other and respect how our fellow Memphians are coping. We have faith in this city and our power to heal.
"To the Nichols family and friends, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences for your loss."
District attorney: "We know the family and community are in mourning"
Following the release of the video, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy issued a statement saying:
"The City of Memphis has now released the video documenting the tragic murder of Tyre Nichols. I know the Shelby County community, and the nation, are feeling both the outrage and the deep pain that comes with witnessing these acts of violence.
"We know the family and community are in mourning. And we recognize and understand the right to public protest, but both we and Tyre's family ask that any demonstrations in response to the video be peaceful.
"The video was released because it was important to the community and to Tyre's family, as they want the world to be their witness and feel their pain. But as we witness the tragic end of Tyre's life, I also urge you to remember Tyre Nichols as his family does: with his big smile, skateboarding, and being a loving family member.
"The release was delayed because 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.
"It's my hope that this tragedy can lead to a broader conversation on police reform. Memphis has a number of local community groups and I urge you to support them in their social justice efforts. We also commit to partnering with them and doing whatever we can with our resources to help our community heal.
"While nothing we do can bring Tyre back, we promise you that we are doing all we can to ensure that Tyre's family, and our city of Memphis, see justice for Tyre Nichols."
Biden calls for "real and lasting change"
President Biden issued a statement saying he was "outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video," and calling on government leaders to "do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice. Read his full statement below.
"Like so many, I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols' death. 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.
"My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols' family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss. The footage that was released this evening will leave people justifiably outraged. Those who seek justice should not to resort to violence or destruction. Violence is never acceptable; it is illegal and destructive. I join Mr. Nichols' family in calling for peaceful protest.
"I spoke with RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, Mr. Nichols' mother and stepfather, this afternoon. There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a beloved child and young father. Nothing can bring Mr. Nichols back to his family and the Memphis community. But Mr. and Mrs. Wells, Mr. Nichols' son, and his whole family deserve a swift, full, and transparent investigation.
"We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all. Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. That is why I called on Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to my desk. When Senate Republicans blocked that bill, I signed an executive order that mandated stricter use of force standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local level."
Police chiefs condemn "unconscionable, unethical" conduct
Major Cities Chiefs Association, a professional organization of police executives from across the country, issued a statement condemning the "unconscionable, unethical" actions seen on the video. They wrote:
"The death of Tyre Nichols is deeply disturbing and the video footage is painful to see.
"The actions of the five Memphis Police Department officers are unconscionable, unethical and clearly inconsistent with the training and protocols of our profession including fundamental policies related to excessive use of force, duty to render aid, and duty to intervene. Their actions were inhumane and indefensible.
"Law enforcement is and should be held to the highest standard and when an officer violates those high standards, it casts a shadow over the hundreds of thousands of police who dutifully serve and are committed to their communities. We cannot let the actions of bad cops let us lose sight of that fact. To the members who serve with honor and integrity, we see you and we support you.
"Our communities deserve the highest quality service and accountability to the public is a cornerstone of community policing. Chief CJ Davis should be commended for her decisive action to terminate the employment of the five officers involved in the death of Tyre Nichols.
"We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols during this difficult time."