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Memphis to release graphic video of Tyre Nichols beating: What to know

The city of Memphis plans to release video Friday showing Tyre Nichols being tased, pepper-sprayed, beaten and restrained for three minutes by police officers in a case that is being closely watched across the country.

The video will be released after 4 p.m. Pacific time, Shelby County Dist. Atty. Steven Mulroy said Thursday.

Here is what we know about the beating, which put Nichols in the hospital, where he ultimately died:

What happened in the police encounter?

Nichols was pulled over Jan. 7 and arrested on suspicion of reckless driving, according to Memphis police. Nichols’ families’ attorneys say they believe he was stopped for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

Officers and Nichols were just 100 yards from the home of Nichols’ parents during the encounter, according to Jennifer McGuffin, the chief spokesperson for Romanucci & Blandon, the law firm representing the family.

When officers approached Nichols’ car, a confrontation occurred, and Nichols ran off, police said.

Attorney Antonio Romanucci — who has seen portions of the police body-camera video — said Nichols asked why he was being pulled over during the initial stop. Officers quickly used pepper spray on him, and he fled from his car, Romanucci said.

The police officers pursued Nichols, and another, more violent, confrontation took place, leading to Nichols’ arrest and subsequent hospitalization, police said.

Romanucci said that although only five police officers were charged, there were more police on scene. He estimated 10 to 12 officers were in the video. Nichols can be heard in the video screaming, “What did I do?” and calling for his mother, he said.

What happened to the officers?

All five were fired less than two weeks after the encounter with Nichols.

On Thursday, the officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, all of whom are Black — were each charged with one count of second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, one count of official oppression, one count of aggravated assault while acting in concert, and two counts of aggravated kidnapping in the death of Nichols.

The five were part of the Memphis Police Department’s Scorpion Unit, a 40-person team dedicated to fighting violent crime in hot spots in the city. “Scorpion” stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.

The unit identifies high-crime areas using data and then sends teams to those locations. It was not immediately clear why Scorpion officers were the ones who pulled Nichols over. But the unit has come under fire from activists who say it has not brought down crime and mostly targets low-income residents.

What do we know about Nichols?

Nichols, a California native and father of a 4-year-old son, grew up in Sacramento and had recently moved to Memphis to work for FedEx. He loved to skateboard and practiced photography, according to family.

Nichols’ aunt, Kandi Green, said in an interview with The Times that he had a bright smile and warm personality.

“He just had one of those spirits, one of those personalities that would draw you to him,” Green said. “He was a sweetheart. Every time you seen him, he had a smile on his face. … Never had a criminal record. Never been in any type of trouble. All-around good kid.”

Asked about the charges against the officers, she added: “I’m excited. It shows that justice is being served. It doesn’t matter the color of the officers. The fact is, the officers did what they did, and it was unnecessary.”


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