Protests and public outrage sparked across the country Friday night after the Memphis Police Department released footage showing the deadly interaction between officers and Tyre Nichols.
Nichols, 29, was subject to a traffic stop by Memphis, Tennessee, police officers on January 7. After the confrontation with law enforcement, which included beatings from some of the officers involved in his detainment, Nichols was hospitalized for his injuries and died three days later.
The footage released on Friday was made up of four separate videos, including police body-camera footage and video from a pole camera.
Protesters rally across the nation
Several cities held protests Friday night in response to the footage’s release. In Memphis, demonstrators blocked traffic on Interstate 55 along the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge, according to a report from WATN journalist Stephen Pimpo. WHBQ reporter Kayla Solomon also captured a video of demonstrators marching through downtown Memphis, chanting, “the whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
In New York City, crowds filled the streets of Times Square on Friday night, holding signs and bringing traffic to a standstill. WABC correspondent CeFaan Kim posted a video on Twitter showing part of the crowd listening to a speaker at the protest, saying, “They don’t give a f*** about us.”
The protests spread coast to coast, according to a report from KGO-TV, who posted a video of crowds marching down the streets of San Francisco, California, holding signs and chanting, “This racist system, shut it down.”
Sheriff announces additional investigations
Further investigations into law enforcement’s response to Nichols’ detainment were also launched on Friday following the footage’s release. Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner released a statement on Twitter, saying that two deputies from his office who appeared on the scene after the “physical confrontation” between police and Nichols had been “relieved of duty.”
“Having watched the videotape for the first time tonight, I have concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols,” Bonner said in the statement. “I have launched an internal investigation into the conduct of these deputies to determine what occurred and if any policies were violated.”
John Morris, public information officer for the Shelby sheriff’s office, told Newsweek Friday that the deputies in question appear toward the end of one of the videos following the physical confrontation, adding that the office was launching an investigation “immediately.”
The five police officers involved in the initial traffic stop of Nichols were fired by the Memphis Police Department last week and face an array of charges, including second-degree murder.
Nichols’ death is being separately investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice and the FBI.
CNN previously reported that two Memphis Fire Department employees who were a part of Nichols’ “initial patient care” have also been relieved of duty, pending the outcome of an investigation.
Memphis council chair: ‘It wasn’t supposed to end like this.’
Several local politicians also spoke out after release of the police footage, including Memphis City Council Chairman Martavius Jones, who broke down in tears while speaking to CNN.
“We, we have to do something,” Jones tells the network. “Not that we were immune to anything, but this wasn’t supposed to happen in our community.”
“This is a traffic stop,” Jones continues through broken sentences. “It wasn’t supposed to end like this.”
Heartbreaking interview with Don Lemon and Memphis City council Chairman Martavius Jones on CNN talking about the murder of Tyre Nichols pic.twitter.com/4ZECzbumOv
— Shannonnn sharpes Burner (PARODY Account) (@shannonsharpeee) January 28, 2023
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted that the footage released of Nichols’ detainment “is difficult to watch,” adding that her office is in contact with local and federal law enforcement.
“I am confident the Memphis Police Department and State of Tennessee will conduct a thorough investigation,” Blackburn wrote.
Several law enforcement agencies also stepped forward. New York Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a statement that the “NYPD and the communities we serve are collectively outraged” over Nichols’ death.
Atlanta Police Department Chief Darin Schierbaum also released a statement, saying the videos “showcased multiple failures by these officers to handle this situation professionally or competently.”
“The actions of these officers has severely impacted law enforcement’s relationship with our communities, from coast to coast,” Schierbaum added.
Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement Friday that Nichols “should have made it home to his family.”
“Yet, once again, America mourns the life of a son and father brutally cut short at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve,” added the vice president.
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