WASHINGTON – The family of Tyre Nichols is calling for calm across the United States as the country braces for visceral video evidence of another young Black man dying at the hands of police.
Authorities in Memphis, Tenn., say the three-minute video — already likened to the explosive 1991 police beating of Rodney King — will be released after 7 p.m. eastern time.
Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, says he wants people to go out and protest once they see the video, but he is urging them to do so peacefully and safely.
Five former Memphis police officers, all of them Black, face murder charges following the Jan. 7 confrontation with Nichols, 29, a FedEx employee and father of a four-year-old boy.
The officers each face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
Ben Crump, the family’s lawyer, cheered how promptly the charges were laid, calling it the “blueprint” for similar cases of police brutality in the future, regardless of ethnicity.
“It was the police culture in America that killed Tyre Nichols,” Crump said.
“We want to proclaim that this is the blueprint going forward for any time any officers, whether they be Black or white, will be held accountable … We won’t accept less going forward in the future.”
All five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — were taken into custody, but at least four of them had posted bond and been released Friday.
Antonio Romanucci, another member of the family’s legal team, singled out the kidnapping charges as especially remarkable in a case involving a police takedown.
“Think about the weight of a kidnapping charge being brought against officers who are wearing a badge, a shield, carrying weapons on their duty belt, acting under the cover of law,” Romanucci said.
He likened the actions of the officers, describing them as a “pack of wolves,” to an act of terrorism.
“It was designed to terrorize the victim,” Romanucci said. “Once those officers were there, they knew their actions were going to cause death. And indeed it did.”
The contents of the video are said to be so explosive, police officials decided it would be best to release it later Friday after schools have let out and businesses are closed.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2023.
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