Authorities release police video depicting five Memphis city officers beating Tyre Nichols, a Black man, who died in hospital on January 10, three days after being "beaten to a pulp."

Protests were held in cities across the United States to mark the video's release, with police departments readying for possible unrest.
Protests were held in cities across the United States to mark the video's release, with police departments readying for possible unrest. (AFP)

Memphis authorities have released more than an hour of footage of the violent beating of Tyre Nichols in which US police officers held the Black motorist down and struck him repeatedly as he screamed for his mother.

The video emerged one day after the officers, who are all Black, were charged with murder in Nichols’ death.

The footage released late on Friday shows police savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes while screaming profanities at him throughout the attack. 

Memphis police said they pulled over Nichols on January 7 around 8:30 pm for "reckless driving" near Raines Road and Ross Road in Memphis. 

"I'm going to baton the (expletive) out you," one officer can be heard saying. His body camera shows him raise his baton while at least one other officer holds Nichols.

After the first officer roughly pulls Nichols out of his car, Nichols can be heard saying, "I didn’t do anything," as a group of officers begins to wrestle him to the ground.

"Get on the ground!," one officer yells, as another is heard yelling "Tase him! Tase him!"

Nichols calmly replied soon after being wrestled to the pavement, "OK, I'm on the ground." Moments later, as the officers continue to yell, Nichols says, "Man, I am on the ground."

An officer yells, "Put your hands behind your back before I break your (expletive)." Moments later, an officer yells, "(Expletive), put your hands behind your back before I break them."

"You guys are really doing a lot right now," Nichols says loudly to the officers. "I’m just trying to go home."

"Stop, I'm not doing anything," he yells moment later.

The camera is briefly obscured and then Nichols can be seen running as an officer fires a Taser at him. The officers then start chasing Nichols.

After the beating, officers milled about for several minutes while Nichols lay propped up against the car, then slumped onto the street.

Earlier on Friday, police on horseback patrolled downtown Memphis ahead of expected protests, with the Nichols' family and officials calling for demonstrations to be peaceful.

"I want to say to the five police officers that murdered my son, you disgraced your own families when you did this," Nichols's mother RowVaughn Wells said at a press conference.

"They had beat him to a pulp," she told CNN, sobbing as she described him in hospital. "He had bruises all over. His head was swollen like a watermelon. His neck was bursting because of the swelling."

The police officers were charged with second-degree murder.

READ MORE: How social media is reacting to death of Tyre Nichols

Biden speaks with victim's relatives 

President Joe Biden spoke with Wells and Nichols's stepfather to express his condolences, telling them that he commended "the family's courage and strength," the White House said.

Later he declared himself "outraged and deeply pained" by newly released footage.

"The footage that was released this evening will leave people justifiably outraged," Biden said in a statement, urging protesters to remain peaceful.

"Those who seek justice should not resort to violence or destruction," Biden said.

Protests were held in cities across the United States to mark the video's release, with police departments readying for possible unrest.

"What I saw on this video was more of a groupthink sort of mentality. And no one took a step to intercept or intervene," Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said. "And that's why the charges are as severe as they are."

Davis compared the video to footage of the 1991 Rodney King beating, which sparked days of riots in Los Angeles that left dozens dead.

"I was in law enforcement during the Rodney King incident, it's very much aligned with that same type of behavior," Davis said. "I would say it's about the same, if not worse."

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the administration was in coordination with "various agencies to ensure they prepare if the protests become violent."

READ MORE: US charges officers with murder in Black man's death; Biden calls for calm

Police brutality

Nichols's death at the hands of police drew immediate comparisons with the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, another Black man whose suffocation by a white police officer in Minneapolis was caught on film.

Video of Floyd's death spread rapidly, sparking a massive wave of at times violent protests nationwide and beyond, and reviving scrutiny of race relations and a culture of police brutality in the United States.

Police officer Derek Chauvin was consequently convicted of murder, in what was seen as a landmark case after he knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes.

Robert Walters, a 67-year-old blues musician visiting Memphis from Virginia, said he and his wife would return home early to avoid any violence.

"I'm a Black man living in America. And that fear is always something that me and my son, we grew up with and we live with," he told the AFP news agency, in reference to police brutality.

"These guys, you'd think, of anybody, should know (better), but it just goes to show you that anybody can fall into that trap," he said.

"I just want people to just be calm and not do anything stupid, not destroy or hurt."

The five police officers involved in the beating were taken into custody following a rapid internal investigation that found them to have deployed excessive use of force and to have failed to render aid.

In addition to second-degree murder charges, the officers are also facing indictments for aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping.

Four of the five were released from jail after posting bail, US media reported on Friday, citing jail records.

READ MORE: Five US police officers sacked after death of Black man

Source: TRTWorld and agencies