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Memphis police chief: Tyre Nichols video ‘about the same, if not worse’ than Rodney King beating

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis on Friday said that the video of the incident that led to Tyre Nichols’s death is “about the same, if not worse” than footage of the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. 

Davis said in an interview on “CNN This Morning,” ahead of the video’s expected release later in the day, that what happened to Nichols, a 29-year-old Black motorist who died after being stopped by police earlier this month, is “very much aligned with that same type of behavior” as what happened to King.

Multiple officers were caught on camera intensely beating King after pulling him over in 1991. Riots broke out in Los Angeles after a jury acquitted most of the officers involved.

Davis said the body camera footage of the incident with Nichols will be released Friday evening on a YouTube link so it can be accessible to everyone. She said the video is broken into four fragments, but they are “very relevant” to the incident. 

She said police decided to release the video on a Friday evening instead of during the workweek so any potential protests would not be as disruptive to people in school or at work. 

Davis said she heard in the video Nichols calling out for his mother and said it shows a “disregard for humanity” and raises questions about why a “sense of care” for Nichols was absent from the situation. 

She said she has spoken to Nichols’s family. 

“You can’t help but feel their pain. You can’t help but even take ownership of what they are going through,” she said. 

Davis said she felt a responsibility to do what she could to take a “first step in justice” in firing the five officers who were involved in the incident. 

Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving on Jan. 7, and officers confronted him. The police department said Nichols ran and officers had another “confrontation” with him in which they arrested him. 

Nichols said after he was arrested that he was experiencing shortness of breath and was taken to a hospital before dying on Jan. 10. 

Nichols’s family and their attorneys viewed the video of the incident earlier this week. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said after seeing the footage that it shows Nichols shocked, pepper-sprayed and restrained after he was pulled over. 

Crump and fellow attorney Antonio Romanucci said Nichols was treated like a “human piñata” and also compared the incident to the King beating.

Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, reiterated that her son was beaten “like a piñata” in an interview also with “CNN This Morning” that aired on Friday.

She said she feels sorry for the officers who were involved because they brought “shame” to their own families. She said the video is “horrific” and lacking in humanity.

Wells said the officers “beat my son to death.”

Memphis officials have repeatedly called for any protests to remain peaceful in anticipation of the video’s release. 

The five officers, who are also Black, were fired from their positions and have been charged with second-degree murder and other charges resulting from the incident.

Wells said the officers also brought “shame” to the Black community. She said Black people do not care what race an officer is and just wants “bad officers” to be removed.

“Why is it that Black and brown kids always get beat up when they are encountered with the police?” she said.

Tags Memphis police police brutality Rodney King Rodney King Tyre Nichols

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