Newly released video and audio recordings of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by five former Memphis police officers during a traffic stop has revealed more details about what took place during the altercation, USA Today reports.
On Tuesday (Jan,30), an additional 21 hours of recordings of the incident were made public by city officials following an order by a Tennessee judge.
In a statement, attorneys Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci, who are representing Nichols' family in a $550 million lawsuit filed against the city, the department, and several individuals, said they will be reviewing the footage.
"As our legal team reviews the new bodycam videos of Tyre Nichols' horrific death at the hands of Memphis Police, we expect the videos to affirm what we have said from day one: that there was absolutely no justification for the officers' brutal and inhumane actions," the statement said.
In addition to the release of the recordings, documents that stem from the police department's internal investigation into the actions of the five ex-officers, Desmond Mills Jr., Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith - who are facing state and federal charges, will also be released soon.
"The City is continuing to review documents for compliance with court order and will begin releasing documents in 14 days," the city said in a statement.
The new footage shows the actions of the officers during the incident, what caused them to pull Nichols over, and numerous contradictory statements from law enforcement.
According to Bean’s body cam recording, one of the officers said that Nichols “drove into oncoming traffic” and “swerved like he’s going to hit my car” after ordering him to stop. But the same officer also said Nichols “stopped at the red light and put his turn signal on.”
The footage includes dispatch audio and street camera footage that shows officers forcibly pulling Nichols from his vehicle where they “fired a Taser at him, shouted profane commands and, after chasing him into a neighbourhood, kicked and punched him” as he yelled for his mother, just steps from his home, the New York Times reported.
While the officers are heard saying that Nichols’ was “swerving” or “speeding” while driving, the Memphis Police Department said “it could not find evidence to support those statements”.
According to the audio, the officers and paramedics who arrived on the scene believed that Nichols was high on drugs.
“He’s not injured. He’s just high,” one emergency medical technician said.
After the officers propped his unresponsive body on a car, the attending medics injected Nichols with Naloxone which was used to reverse a potential opioid overdose.
Nichols’ autopsy later showed that his system had only low levels of alcohol and THC, which is an active ingredient in marijuana.
While the video footage doesn’t show it, the officers claim that Nichols tried to grab the gun from one of the officers.
Lt. Dewayne Smith, who wasn’t charged with the other officers and resigned before a hearing was held that would have led to his termination, is seen on Mills' body camera footage knocking on the door of Nichols' parents' home. According to Smith’s administrative hearing file, he allegedly misled Nichols’ parents during their conversation and Mills’ body camera footage offered more details about his actions.
"Are you familiar with a Tyre Nichols?" Smith asks Rodney Wells who wanted to know why his son was arrested.
Mills says, "DUI," while Smith paused. Smith then informed Rodney Wells that Nichols was being charged with a DUI.
"DUI?" RowVaughn Wells asks. "Why? What happened?"
"Well, he was intoxicated," Smith answered. He also asked if Nichols had used any narcotics because "he was on something other than alcohol" and they "couldn't get anything from him."
The footage also revealed that Preston Hemphill misled Nichols's parents when he spoke with them. He claimed that Nichols “started fighting with us” after a traffic stop at a red light.
When RowVaughn Wells said that her son would have never fought with police, Hemphill said that Nichols was “fighting hard, too” and that “from the way he was fighting, he had to have been on something.”
Personnel files obtained by The Commercial Appeal discovered that four of the five criminally charged officers had been reprimanded before Nichols was beaten, and never faced consequences from the department.
In November, Mills Jr., changed his not-guilty plea to guilty and the deal included the possibility of the former officer testifying against his former colleagues.
Because of his cooperation, federal prosecutors suggested that Mills serve a maximum sentence of 15 years.
If convicted, the other four former officers face maximum life sentences in the state and federal cases.
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