Death of Tyre Nichols Sparks Public Outrage

Death of Tyre Nichols Sparks Public Outrage

( – The May 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers sparked outrage across the country. A court subsequently found the four involved men in uniform guilty of various infractions. Now, another similar scene is playing out in Memphis, Tennessee, after a man died following an alleged police beating.

The Crime

Officers pulled over 29-year-old Tyre Nichols for reckless driving on January 7 near the home he lived at with his mom and stepdad. A confrontation ensued, and the officers pulled Nichols from the vehicle. They allegedly beat him for three minutes straight with their fists, feet, and a police baton.

The bodycam and street camera footage, which show the violence Nichols suffered at the hand of the police, were released to the public last week. During the incident, The New York Times reported that the five officers — Emmitt Martin III, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr. — issued at least 71 commands, often contradictory and ones Nichols couldn’t comply with, during the 13-minute encounter. Some members of the Nichols family’s legal team likened the attack to the one that Rodney King suffered in 1991.

Additionally, medical personnel who arrived on the scene seemed to take longer than usual to address the injured man’s state. Nichols died as a result of his injuries three days later. On January 20, the police department fired the officers involved for violating the department’s policy on the use of force, all of whom are black.

Former Officers Arrested

On January 26, the five officers involved in the beating were arrested and charged with various offenses in connection to the crime, including:

  • Second-degree murder
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Aggravated assault
  • Official oppression
  • Official misconduct

The murder charges alone carry a penalty of 15 to 60 years behind bars.

The Hill reported that Nichols’ stepfather spoke with members of the media by phone regarding the charges and indicated that he was okay with the second-degree murder count since additional crimes were levied against the former officers. I’m “all right with that,” he said.

Public Outrage and His Family’s Request

The public was immediately outraged in the aftermath of Nichols’ death. Protests erupted in response to his death and quickly grew in numbers subsequent to the release of video footage of his arrest.

Nichols’ parents held a candlelight vigil for their son, and several people joined them. RowVaughn Wells, the victim’s mother, spoke out at that time, saying they needed to “protest peacefully.” According to The Hill, she said it’s okay for them to “get [their] point across” but not “to tear up our cities, people, because we do have to live in them.”

Reverend Al Sharpton also spoke out about the incident and told people to protest peacefully after violence broke out in New York City.

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