Memphis police released video footage of the fatal beating of nichols tire around 7 pm ET on Friday night. The videos showed not only the brutal beating to death of Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, but a series of unexplained events leading up to the beating in which many officers, more than the five defendants, were on the scene. however, no one seemed to be in charge as many minutes passed, and the officers stood idly by for about 25 minutes as a dying man lay in the street in front of them, apparently doing nothing.
The videos were broadcast on four sections. The first three are from officers’ body cameras, and the last is a police department camera attached to a light pole at the intersection where Nichols ultimately died, just minutes away from home. The fourth video showed the repeated kicking, punching and whipping with batons that took Nichols’s life.
The videos are sure to raise dozens of questions about the incident and MPD officers’ handling of it. The first video shows Nichols being taken into custody, although it is unclear why he was taken into custody. Nichols questions why he was stopped, but there is no apparent answer (much of the video is silent or unintelligible). Nichols is heard saying: “Damn! I didn’t do anything!” and later, when the cops tell him to get on the ground, “I’m on the ground!” Nichols also says, “You guys are trying to do a lot right now. I’m just trying to to get home.”
Towards the end of the first video, he flees down a street identified in crosstalk as Ross Street and backup is called. “I hope he gets stomped in the ass,” says one police officer of the others chasing him.
In the second video, Nichols is found down the street. They throw him to the ground and administer pepper spray. Nichols is screaming for his mother. In the third, a large number of officers, eight or ten, surround Nichols, who is lying in the street handcuffed and with his back against a patrol car. He is kicked and punched. Many minutes pass. Finally, the paramedics arrive, but do not take him away.
It is the fourth video showing the brutal violence and apparent death of Nichols. There is no sound with this video, unlike the other three. Two agents hold him. One administers several vicious kicks, some to the head. Another hits him. Another uses his staff. Within five minutes, Nichols is lying on the ground, unmoving. For several more minutes, three or four officers surround Nichols, just watching.
On CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta expressed surprise that no one offered Nichols care, saying that likely due to the beatings, Nichols’ brain was severely damaged and swollen and needed immediate attention. But at least five officers are standing around. doing nothing for several minutes.
Simply put: violence is shocking. But just as shocking: the indifference of the officers to the death that was occurring among them, the death they caused. Even police officers who shoot an assailant call 911 immediately. The fourth video shows the apparently lifeless body of Nichols, and 26 minutes pass before a stretcher arrives. There is no urgency; an officer, who had kicked Nichols, limps down the street and walks away.