Memphis, the main city of Tennessee (USA), had spent days with accumulated tension waiting for the publication of a video with a new case of police brutality against the black minority. It is about the fatal beating that Tire Nichols, a 29-year-old man stopped at a traffic control, received on January 7, and who died three days later.
The images were expected to be released by the Memphis authorities on Friday starting at 6 p.m. local time (1 a.m. Friday in Spain) and that happened five minutes later. As those responsible for the police and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have already warned, the video is horrifying.
The five agents -like the victim, all black- who staged the beating they were expelled from the police force On January 20 and this week, after the authorities reviewed the evidence and viewed the videos, they have been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping.
The published images have a duration of about an hour and are divided into four videos: Three body cameras and a surveillance camera at the corner of the intersection where the beating occurred.
The first of the videos with a body camera shows the arrest of the victim, whom the agents forcibly remove from the vehicle and throw to the ground. Despite having him immobilized, the policemen are unable to place the handcuffs on him. They try to reduce him with a shot from a taser -a weapon with electric shocks- and with pepper spray, but Nichols manages to extricate himself and runs away. In the video one of the agents is seen protesting because the spray was fired on himself, and one of the colleagues recriminates him that it has also hit him.
The beating takes place soon after, when they manage to catch him again. It occurs less than a hundred yards from Nichols’ home. In fact, he is heard yelling “Mom!” several times, trying to get the attention of his relatives.
The surveillance camera is the one that best captures the attacks. Despite Nichols’ protests, the officers kick him in the face and punch him while Nichols is pinned to the ground. When they manage to put the handcuffs on him and straighten him up, the blows do not stop, with punched in the face. At some point in the body camera footage Nichols is heard saying if he is not “enough” anymore and his face is covered in blood. That does not stop the blows from continuing. One of the agents comes to take out a metal baton and someone is heard saying “I’m going to fuck you with clubs.”
After the beating, Nichols is left lying against a police car, motionless. It is not clear if he is unconscious by then. The agents who have given him the blows do not help him, nor do the rest of the agents who have arrived at the scene (some of the kicks have occurred when they were already there). Everyone is around, talking about what happened, paying no attention to the victim.
The first assistance takes 26 minutes to arrive. The bodies of the policemen cover the first care of Nichols, and it is not perceived in what state he is at that moment. The ambulance arrives four minutes later.
As expected, the release of the video was accompanied by protests in Memphis and other cities across the country. Both Nichols’ family and the authorities called for them to be peaceful.
«I am horrified and deeply hurt after seeing the horrifying video of the beating that ended in the death of Tire Nichols”, reacted the president of the United States, Joe Bidenin a statement, in which he assured that this case “is another painful reminder of the deep fear, trauma, pain and exhaustion that black and dark-skinned Americans suffer every day.”
The president demanded that the protests be peaceful –“Violence is never acceptable, it is illegal and destructive”– and that Congress approve police reforms at the national level.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism