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Tyre Nichols’ Parents Remember Son as “Beautiful Soul” & Describe Video of Beating by Memphis Police

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue today’s show in Memphis, Tennessee.
Again, on Thursday, five fired police officers have been arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old African American man who weighed barely 150 pounds. He died on January 10th of kidney failure and cardiac arrest, three days after his violent arrest following a traffic stop just blocks from his home. His family shared a shocking photo of Tyre from his hospital bed shortly before he died. He was violently bruised and on a breathing tube. The family wanted everyone to see that photograph. Earlier today, the Memphis police chief, C.J. Davis, told CNN that she actually did not see evidence police even had a legitimate reason to stop Nichols’ car. He was a father of a young son, an amateur photographer, longtime skateboarder, worked at FedEx for the past nine months.
We’re joined right now by Tyre’s mom, by Tyre’s mother RowVaughn Wells, and his stepfather, Rodney Wells, as well as the family’s attorney, Ben Crump.
Our deepest, deepest condolences to you. RowVaughn, we have seen you trying to be a part of these news conferences as you break down. Have you seen — and I can’t even imagine what this is like, to watch the video of your son, his last words crying out for you.
ROWVAUGHN WELLS: Well, actually, I haven’t seen the video. I saw what the police officers did to my son when I seen him in the hospital. I don’t need to see how — I don’t need to seem them do it. I saw the end results.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Mr. Wells saw the video. Ms. Wells could not. After the first moments, she left the room. She couldn’t take it, because that was her baby.
AMY GOODMAN: If, Rodney Wells, you could tell us what you saw? This is what the world will see today at 6:00 your time, Memphis time, this video. I am so sorry you had to witness this, of course, not as sorry as for what actually it shows, the death of your son.
RODNEY WELLS: What I saw was the police brutalizing my son. They didn’t have to do that. He didn’t deserve that. He was a very, very good kid, and I didn’t understand why they had to beat him the way that they did. It was just very, very horrific. I’m glad my wife didn’t see it, because she didn’t deserve to see that, either. It was just troubling.
AMY GOODMAN: Tyre was just a few blocks from his home?
RODNEY WELLS: No, he was a few houses from the home.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: He was about 80 feet from his house. And it makes sense why his last words on this Earth is he’s yelling out for his mother, gut-wrenching cries for his mother.
AMY GOODMAN: When did you learn what happened, RowVaughn Wells? Because he was so close to his home.
ROWVAUGHN WELLS: The police officers came to the door and asked if I knew my son. I said, “Yes.” They said, “Well, do you know Tyre Nichols?” And I said, “Yes.” They proceeded to tell me that he had been arrested for a DUI. That was quite confusing, because my son don’t drink like that. They then proceeded to tell me that he was being attended to by the paramedics, because they had to tase and pepper-spray him. I asked where my son was. They told me he was nearby. So, at the time, I didn’t know where this had all transpired, until further reports came out. Once we left the house, my husband and I went to go see if we can find our son, and we found his car a couple blocks away with the undercover police officers there. We got a call from the physician telling me to come to the hospital.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: About 4:00 in the morning.
ROWVAUGHN WELLS: Yes, around 4:00 in the morning, I got a call from the physician telling me to get to the hospital quickly. My son had went into cardiac arrest, and his kidneys were failing. I didn’t understand that, because they only told me he was pepper-sprayed and tased. But when I — when we got to the hospital, the picture that everybody sees, that’s what we saw.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about Tyre, RowVaughn Wells. And, Rodney Wells, please join in. The two of you telling us, first, I mean, just a physical description. How much did he weigh?
ROWVAUGHN WELLS: Tyre was 6’3”. He weighed about a buck fifty. Tyre has Crohn’s disease, so he manages it with his diet, so he doesn’t eat as much as normal people. So he was fairly light. That’s why this is so troubling to me, because you had five officers’ combined weight of over a thousand pounds beating up on a young man that’s only a buck fifty. Where — how did they fear for their lives in order for this to happen? I’m not — I’m still trying to understand that.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: And let me make it clear, Amy. What we have seen that transpired with these charges being levied so quickly should now be the blueprint of what happens when you see police officers commit crimes on video against citizens. And we saw the Memphis Police Department, the district attorney terminate these five Black officers and charge them within less than 20 days. And so, when we think about all these other cases, whether it’s Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, I mean, so many of them, Botham Jean, they can’t have this excuse now and say, “we need six months, we need a year,” when you have evidence on video of the crime, because it should be equal justice, that we have swift justice, not just when it’s five Black officers, when it’s any police officer that engage in excessive use of force against citizens, unarmed citizens.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, the police officers can get out on bail, right? On bond. I think three have been — will have to raise $250,000, two of them $350,000. At least three are expected to get out. RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, your response to them being free?
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Everybody is entitled to bail. They’re innocent until proven guilty.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you understand, Ben Crump? You’ve described he was beaten. What else is seen? Did you yourself see the video?
BENJAMIN CRUMP: I did, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what happens at the end?
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Tragically, the video is going to remind many people of Rodney King. But unlike Rodney King, RowVaughn and Rodney’s son Tyre does not survive. I mean, at the end of that video, after he called out for his mother, his last words on this Earth, you see him sitting — they set him up handcuffed against the police car. And then you see his body fall to the right side. After a minute or so, they sit him back upright, and then you see his body fall to the left side. And then they pick him back up upright, and he falls on the ground, and he’s moaning. It’s obvious he’s in distress.
And what you want is them to display an ounce of humanity and try to render some aid to this human being that is in distress. But you don’t see that. And on top of all of the escalation that we saw earlier in the video, where they are using such profane language against him, and they are punching him and kicking him, you are saying, “When is somebody going to display humanity?” And that’s what’s troubling, because you don’t see it on that video even as he’s going in and out of consciousness, handcuffed, on the ground, against the police car.
AMY GOODMAN: Now —
BENJAMIN CRUMP: The fire —
AMY GOODMAN: Now, five — two fire department employees have also been relieved of duty. The five cops have been fired and jailed now. But do you know what role they played?
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Well, based on what Mr. Wells and I and all the other people who watched the video, we saw that these fire department officials came on the scene, and for several minutes they are just standing around, too, talking, while Tyre is in obvious distress. When you watch this video, you’re going to be able to see that he needs medical attention, and nobody is trying to render aid. And I believe that is why these fire department officials are also being investigated in this matter. They did not do what they were supposed to do, in the sense that they were supposed to be first responders that responds first to a person’s health and welfare.
AMY GOODMAN: RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, you were with your son in the hospital as he hovered between life and death for three days, died on January 10th. This is two weeks later. RowVaughn Wells, you have said the police tried to cover this up. Can you explain how you feel they did this?
ROWVAUGHN WELLS: I’m just going to say this: From the initial time that they came to my door and the things that they were saying, and then the information that I am receiving, I feel like they tried to start covering it up when they came to my door. And that’s just from the information that I am receiving right now and the initial contact with the police when they came to my door.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And Tyre has a 4-year-old son. Tell us more about who he was, about his skateboarding prowess, working at FedEx, coming home for lunch each day to you. Just talk about how you want us to remember him.
ROWVAUGHN WELLS: I want you to remember Tyre. Tyre was — he was different. Tyre didn’t follow everyone. He was his own leader. He had a beautiful soul, and he touched everyone. The boy smiled all the time. He loved his mother’s cooking. He loved his son. That’s why he came to Memphis in the first place, to be with his mom, build a better life for him and his son. But Memphis took my son away from me. So, I have nothing.
AMY GOODMAN: Tyre had a tattoo of you on his arm?
ROWVAUGHN WELLS: He had my name on — a tattoo of my name on his arm.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, when this video is released, it will be shown. And I’m asking you for direction now, the two of you, Rodney and RowVaughn Wells. Do you want us to show it, the video of your son’s — of the beating of your son?
RODNEY WELLS: Yes, we do want you to show the video. But at that same respect, we want protesters to do it peacefully. We don’t need riots or looting. That’s not going to bring our son back. That’s not what he stood for. He was a peaceful person, and we’re a peaceful family. So, if you want to riot, just — I mean, if you want to protest, just protest peacefully.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Yes.
RODNEY WELLS: We do not need no uproar. We don’t need no looting and burning. And, you know, don’t destroy your own city. That’s not what we’re about or our son was about.
AMY GOODMAN: Will you be part of the vigils and the protests, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells?
RODNEY WELLS: Yes.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: They are standing with the community, because the community stands with them.
RODNEY WELLS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And what is your message to the local officials? I mean, many of them, including the police chief, C.J. Davis, an African American woman, has said that what took place was heinous. She also set up the Scorpion unit, of which of these five officers were a part, she said, to deal with violence in people’s — the community. Your message to them right now, and to President Biden, as well, who also spoke about the killing of Tyre Nichols?
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Well, we say thank you to the police chief, Davis. When she first encountered the family, she told Ms. Wells and Mr. Wells she was not engaging them just as a chief, but she was engaging them as a mother, a mother of Black children, and that her heart breaks for them. And she wasn’t proud of anything she saw in that video by these officers. So, we’re thankful to them. We thank President Biden for his comments that this family deserves justice, just as all Americans do. And we are very grateful to everybody who has demonstrated the respect and dignity for Tyre Nichols’ life that those police officers did not do on January 7. And so, we thank you, Amy, for covering this important matter. And we’re going to let the family continue to prepare for the day. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: And, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, again, our deepest condolences. And, Ben, if you have one minute, I wanted to ask you about another case, it’s hard to believe, at this moment that you’re dealing with, and that is Patrisse Cullors’ cousin, Keenan Anderson, also stopped at a traffic stop in Los Angeles.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Yeah, it seems to be, no matter what, when it’s a person of color, that they do the most. I mean, he’s handcuffed, and they still tase him six or seven times within 42 seconds, we believe, causing his heart to be electrocuted. And he was a 31-year-old teacher. I mean, it’s just so heartbreaking, all of these tragedies.
And you have some minority officers involved in that tragedy in Los Angeles, which underscores, Amy, what I’ve said recently, dealing with these officers who killed Tyre Nichols, who are all African American. What I have learned in my almost 25 years of doing civil rights law all across America, that it is not the race of the police officers that are the determining factor whether they’re going to engage in excessive use of force, but it is the race of the citizen. And oftentimes it is Black citizens and Brown citizens who get the brunt of police brutality. We don’t see videos of our white brothers and sisters who are unarmed being levied with this type of excessive force that you’re going to see from RowVaughn and Rodney’s son. You don’t have this type of brutality against white citizens which you see on Keenan Anderson, Keenan Anderson in Los Angeles, for a traffic interaction, where they end up dead. You just don’t see that in America.
And so, this is a blueprint, Amy Goodman, that now what we saw them do in Memphis with the termination of these five Black officers and charging them in less than 20 days based on the crimes they witnessed on that video, it should happen everywhere for all these cases that we’ve talked so much about, whether it’s Botham Jean in Dallas, Texas, whether it’s Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, whether it’s Philando Castile in Minneapolis, Minnesota, whether it’s Pamela Turner in Houston, Texas. All of them deserve swift justice. And it should not matter if the officers are white or Black. But he saw how swiftly justice can happen because how they charged these five Black officers.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m just wondering if RowVaughn wants to see — RowVaughn Wells, if you want to see Memphis officialdom marching with you — the police chief, the mayor, the FBI, the Justice Department, if you want to see President Biden marching with you?
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Want everybody standing up for justice.
ROWVAUGHN WELLS: Yes.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: We want everybody standing up for justice, Amy. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much. And, Ben, one last question, because you may be about to bring a lawsuit in Florida around a Black studies AP course being banned by Governor DeSantis. One of the issues he raises is that issues like police brutality cast aspersions on police, that he doesn’t want to see Black Lives Matter subjects raised in high schools. You held a news conference in your hometown of Tallahassee. Can you talk about that and how that links into this larger story?
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Well, obviously, it has a profound effect on police interaction with citizens from the Black community. And we have to talk about the history of America, all the history. We can’t have them do a watered-down version of history. Our children, Black children, white children, Hispanic children, everybody needs to learn all history and learn that there’s value in all our history and culture, and especially African American history.
And so, that’s why we gave notice of intent to sue Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida if he tries to prohibit African American advanced placement courses being taught in the state of Florida, because our children have to understand, from the beginning, that Black history is American history. The great Negro educator Carter G. Woodson, known as the father of Black history, said that if a race has no history, if a race has no traditions that are respected and taught to the youth, then that race becomes a negligible thought in the world that can be eliminated from the world. And we won’t let Governor Ron DeSantis or anybody eliminate our Black history and culture from being taught in the schools in Florida or in the schools anywhere in America, because our Black history matters.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Crump, we want to thank you so much for being with us. And again, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, our deepest, deepest condolences.
That does it for our show. Please spread the word that democracynow.org is here on the ground. I’m Amy Goodman.

Memphis BLM Activist: Tyre Nichols’ Killing Is Part of Police Brutality Crisis Facing Black Residents

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
We begin today’s show in Memphis, Tennessee. On Thursday, five fired police officers were arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old African American man. Nichols died on January 10th of kidney failure and cardiac arrest, three days after his violent arrest following a traffic stop. His family shared a shocking photo of Tyre from his hospital bed shortly before he died. He was violently bruised and on a breathing tube. Earlier today, Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis told CNN she has seen no evidence police even had a legitimate reason to stop Nichols’ vehicle. On Thursday night, a candlelight vigil was held in Memphis.

VIGILERS: Justice for Tyre! Justice for Tyre! Justice for Tyre! Justice for Tyre!

AMY GOODMAN: Tyre Nichols was the father of a young son, an amateur photographer and a longtime skateboarder. He had worked at FedEx for the past nine months.
On Thurday, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy outlined the charges against the five police officers.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY STEVE MULROY: Second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping resulting in bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping involving the possession of a weapon, official misconduct through unauthorized exercise of power, official misconduct through failure to act when there is a duty imposed by law, and official oppression. While each of the five individuals played a different role in the incident in question, the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols, and they are all responsible.

AMY GOODMAN: All five officers charged are African American. They were part of what’s known as the Scorpion unit, which stands for “Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.” The five officers were all fired earlier this month, after Tyre Nichols’ death. The five officers were booked into the Shelby County Jail Thursday. Bail was set between $250,000 and $350,000 for all five. Two Memphis firefighters have also been relieved of duty while an internal investigation takes place.
Memphis and other cities are now bracing for mass protests over the police killing of Tyre Nichols. Memphis is expected to release police bodycam video at 6 p.m. Memphis time that shows the five officers pepper-spraying, tasing, kicking and beating Nichols for three minutes. David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, said the video is, quote, “absolutely appalling.”

DAVID RAUSCH: I’m sickened by what I saw and what we’ve learned through our extensive and thorough investigation. I’ve seen the video. And as DA Mulroy stated, you will, too. In a word, it’s absolutely appalling. … Let me be clear: What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier in the week, Antonio Romanucci, an attorney for Tyre Nichols’ family, described what he saw in the video. As he spoke, Tyre’s mother behind him began sobbing.

ANTONIO ROMANUCCI: He was defenseless the entire time. He was a human piñata for those police officers. It was an unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for three minutes.

ROWVAUGHN WELLS: Oh my god!

ANTONIO ROMANUCCI: That is what we saw in that video.

AMY GOODMAN: “Oh my god!” his mother cried out as the lawyer spoke. Ben Crump, another attorney for Tyre Nichols’ family, said Tyre was calling out for his mother while the police beat him.

BEN CRUMP: The last words on the video — he’s only about 80 to 100 yards from his house, and he calls for his mom, three times. “Mom!” he has called for his mom. And so, where is the humanity? Where is the humanity?

AMY GOODMAN: Crump had his arm around Tyre Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, who also spoke at the news conference.

ROWVAUGHN WELLS: My son — I know everybody say they — mothers say they had a good son. Everybody’s son is good. But my son, he actually was a good boy. He was — … I don’t know anything right now. All I know is my son Tyre is not here with me anymore. He will never walk through that door again. He will never come in and say, “Hello, parents” — because that’s what he would do. He would come in and say, “Hello, parents.”

AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Memphis, where we’re joined by Amber Sherman. She’s a community organizer and a member of the Official Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter. Amber is also the host and creator of the podcast The Law According to Amber.
Amber, thanks so much for joining us in these deeply horrifying times, especially in Memphis right now. You were there last night at the protest. Can you first respond to how you found out about what’s happened, and what your reaction is, what you’re calling for?
AMBER SHERMAN: Yeah. Thank you for having me.
I found out about what happened to Tyre from other organizers, because, honestly, violence by police happens so much in Memphis that I feel it doesn’t even reach mainstream media oftentimes. Tyre’s untimely death was the fourth time someone had been murdered by police in the last two months, since December. So we’re definitely not a — a place that’s, you know, used to experiencing that kind of violence. And I was horrified to hear that five people were involved in literally beating someone to death. It’s extremely disgusting, but it’s also not a surprise, considering the way the police here treat people in Memphis. We are extremely overpoliced. Every experience that my friends have had, and folks that I know, has been violent. They immediately approach situations with violence. They don’t give us the respect that they want us to give them. It’s always “You’re a criminal. And how can we put you down, or how can we put you in your place?”
AMY GOODMAN: So, I’m wondering if you can tell us, then, about the response of Memphis officialdom. For example, the police chief, who is an African American woman, been there, what, for about a year and a half, C.J. Davis, said what she saw was heinous, reckless, inhumane and horrific. And interestingly, in an interview she did today, she said, though she couldn’t see it on bodycam footage, the reason for the traffic stop — they claimed he was driving recklessly. She said when she looked at all the video around, as they can look at a community, she couldn’t even see that. What do you think of, to say the least, not only the police chief, but all of these officials, from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, etc., saying this was criminal, heinous, you know, inhumane? Is that consistent with your experience of how they deal with issues of police brutality in the community?
AMBER SHERMAN: Yes. I mean, like folks have been saying over the past few years, this experience among Black people isn’t abnormal. It’s literally just being caught on camera. We have experienced this same kind of violence over and over and over again in our communities. And their cute little statements don’t mean anything to me, because the Scorpion unit still exists. The different task force units still exist. Unless she’s willing to take some action, honestly, she can keep the cute statements. It does nothing for us.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you talked about the Scorpion unit. Again, if you can explain what that is, just set up in the last two years, and also talk about your confrontation with the Memphis mayor, Strickland, a few days ago?
AMBER SHERMAN: Yeah, the Scorpion unit is another task force unit that we have here. So, Memphis has several task force units, from the multilevel gang unit, the Organized Crime Unit, and now this Scorpion unit, which is another type of organized crime task force. And the goal of it was that they would flood high-crime areas with all of these officers. The Scorpion unit has teams of eight people. So, they would flood those areas with high crime with all these officers, and that’s supposed to deter the crime. But that is definitely not what’s happening, and that’s what hasn’t been happening this entire time. They’re scaring citizens. They’re assaulting people, and they’re murdering them.
And I approached the mayor because he, essentially, has the power to make those decisions within — around policy for the police department or to push C.J. Davis to make those changes. And I think it’s deplorable for them to host an award ceremony in honor of MLK on MLK Day, when MLK would have been in the streets with us. MLK would have been calling for justice for Tyre, too. We wouldn’t have been hosting cute events with shrimp and lobster and waffles, and giving out little awards. Like, that’s not what he stood for. And this is a common pattern with this mayor. He ignores things that shouldn’t be ignored. And until people run up on him with a camera to his face and call him out and interrogate him on how he should be responding to incidents, he doesn’t do anything. And even now he hasn’t done anything. He’s put out cute statements, but he hasn’t done anything, either, just like the police chief.
AMY GOODMAN: So, can you talk about these five police officers? A 2016 lawsuit says one of them, accused in Tyre’s beating, allegedly assaulted a prisoner. What do you know of their records?
AMBER SHERMAN: So, we don’t have specifics around their records, because as a part of the demands the family has and that we have as a community, we’ve been asking for those files to be released, and we’ll continue to be asking for those files to be released. But what I can say is that that behavior of officers isn’t abnormal.
And I think it’s disgusting that we, as citizens of a majority-Black city, have these police officers intruding on us, on our regular, everyday lives, and we can’t get the basic things we’ve been asking for, but we can get more and more police officers. And that’s what the mayor has pushed for. The mayor has pushed for limiting residency requirements so that people who live further away can become police officers. They have offered bonuses. They’ve used a lot of the COVID funding for policing. But they haven’t actually addressed any of the real reasons why we have crime or higher crime rates in certain areas.
AMY GOODMAN: The information we have on the 2016 lawsuit said that one of the officers accused in Tyre’s murder allegedly assaulted a prisoner. Officer Demetrius Haley was one of three correction officers at the time reportedly involved in the assault of the prisoner Cordarlrius Sledge in Shelby County, an assault that left him unconscious. Sledge later filed a lawsuit, but a judge dismissed it in 2018, saying Sledge did not properly serve one of the defendants with a summons, Amber.
AMBER SHERMAN: Yeah, I did hear about that lawsuit, and I honestly would not be surprised, considering the way that our pretrial detention center and the prison here operate. Our sheriff does not do a good job. We have critiqued him on that several times, and he has continued to ignore it. We’ve raised concerns about how people were being treated in the jail and the prison, and he has continued to ignore those concerns, as well. So I definitely would not be surprised if someone was experiencing that kind of violence and assault.
AMY GOODMAN: Amber, you’re wearing a shirt that says “Humanize being Black.” I can’t see the second line of your shirt. If you can talk about what the plans are now for protest? As you were at the protest last night — the vigil, I should say. Tyre’s mother calling for peace tonight. Your response to all of this?
AMBER SHERMAN: Yeah, the shirt says “Humanize being Black” over and over and over again. But what I will say is, I think it’s interesting when folks call for peace from us, as citizens who live here, when the only ones being violent are the police. We’ve never had protests that weren’t peaceful. In the years that I’ve been organizing, in the years that I’ve participated in protests, they’ve always been peaceful. The police escalate things. The police are the reason why we’re in the streets in the first place, because they are so violent.
And so, I always implore people, especially businesses who push the fearmongering by closing their businesses early, and police who heavily flood areas on horses, and putting up gates and things like that, to actually hone in on who’s the real violent person here. Five officers beat someone to death, not citizens. And so, asking us to remain peaceful, when the city and the city’s public service and employees aren’t peaceful to us, is, one, unrealistic, but, two, just not true, because we haven’t ever had a protest that wasn’t peaceful.
AMY GOODMAN: [KCRA] in Sacramento spoke to Tyre Nichols’ sister, Keyana Dixon, and his brother, Jamal Dupree, after they learned from family members what the police body-camera video showed.

KEYANA DIXON: For this to happen to him in this way, the pain is just — it’s — I have no words.

bq JAMAL DUPREE: Listening to how my stepfather laid it out, it was horrific. … Calling for my mom. … Out of all five officers, nobody decided to say, “Hey, this is not cool. Like, let’s back up here.”
AMY GOODMAN: That’s KCRA in Sacramento, the interviews with Tyre’s brother and sister. Talk about what’s going to happen tonight. The police bodycam will be released at 6:00 Memphis time. That’s 7:00 Eastern Time. What do you understand you will see? What did it take to get this video released, Amber?
AMBER SHERMAN: It definitely took a lot of on-the-ground organizing, pressuring the folks in charge. I definitely believe that if we hadn’t had the protest on Saturday, about over a week ago, if we hadn’t shown up at City Hall on MLK Day, if we hadn’t been continuing to show up at the DA’s Office and hosting sit-in, if we hadn’t continued to pull up on people who are not responding to us, then we definitely wouldn’t be getting that video footage.
But I do want to be clear: I don’t need a video to know that Tyre was viciously murdered. And I don’t ever encourage Black people to experience that kind of trauma over and over again by watching those types of videos. I tell people over and over again, anything that happens tonight will be in support of the family demands, which still haven’t been answered. They’ve charged five officers, but there were more people involved. They’ve quietly fired people that they won’t name. So, we definitely want to continue to uplift those demands, but we don’t need to see a video to do that. I’ve seen a picture of what Tyre looked like before he was attacked and Tyre in the hospital. That’s enough.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to the Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy describing the traffic stop that led to Tyre’s death.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY STEVE MULROY: There was an initial traffic stop. And we won’t comment right now on the presence or absence of legality of the stop, but there was a traffic stop. And there was an initial altercation involving several officers and Mr. Nichols. Pepper spray was deployed. The suspect — not the suspect, Mr. Nichols fled on foot. There was another altercation at a nearby location, at which the serious injuries were experienced by Mr. Nichols. After some period of time of waiting around afterwards, he was taken away by an ambulance. Beyond that, I don’t really think I — we should go into any further details.

REPORTER: So, there was a delay in a call — the police delayed calling the ambulance for —

DISTRICT ATTORNEY STEVE MULROY: There was an elapsed period of time, but I believe that if you watch the video, you’ll be able to make that judgment for yourself.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you, Amber Sherman, community organizer, member of the Official Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter. Amber is host and creator of the podcast The Law According to Amber. And, Amber, I hope we get to talk to you again next week. We’ll keep people updated at democracynow.org on what happens this weekend. Thank you so much.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. When we come back, we’ll be joined by Ben Crump, one of the lawyers for the family of Tyre Nichols. He’s in Memphis. Stay with us.

Headlines for January 27, 2023

In Tennessee, five former Memphis police officers have been indicted on murder and kidnapping charges over the killing of Tyre Nichols. The 29-year-old African American man died of kidney failure and cardiac arrest on January 10, three days after his violent arrest following a traffic stop. Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy spoke at a news conference on Thursday.

District Attorney Steve Mulroy: “Here are the charges: second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping resulting in bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping involving the possession of a weapon, official misconduct through unauthorized exercise of power, official misconduct through failure to act when there is a duty imposed by law, and official oppression. While each of the five individuals played a different role in the incident in question, the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols, and they are all responsible.”

The five former officers were booked into the Shelby County Jail on Thursday. Their lawyers say at least three of them plan to post bail. All five are African American, as was Tyre Nichols. The ex-officers’ arrests came as Memphis city officials said they will release nearly an hour of body-camera video this evening showing how police pepper-sprayed, tased, restrained, kicked and beat Tyre Nichols for three minutes. David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said he was “sickened” by what he saw in the video.

David Rausch: “In a word, it’s absolutely appalling. … Let me be clear: What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal.”

Ahead of the video’s release today at 6 p.m. Memphis time, the Memphis Police Department has activated its entire force in anticipation of weekend protests. President Biden released a statement, reading, “I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest. Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable.” After headlines, we’ll speak with Ben Crump, attorney for Tyre Nichols’ family, and with Nichols’ parents.