In connection with the deadly beating of a Black man in Memphis, US authorities on Thursday charged five former police officers with murder. As the southern city prepared for potential civil unrest, President Joe Biden urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully.
On January 7, Memphis Police Department officers stopped 29-years-old Tyre Nichols for allegedly driving recklessly.
Family lawyers Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci claimed that after a chase, “police brutalized him to the point of becoming unrecognizable.”
The five cops, all of whom are Black, were fired following an internal review that revealed their excessive use of force and neglect of intervention.
Police said that Nichols was taken to the hospital in a severe condition, where he died on January 10.
Authorities announced that the police video of the arrest would be made public after 6:00 pm Central time on Friday (0000 GMT Saturday).
The police assassination of Nichols immediately brought to mind the suffocation of George Floyd, another Black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020, which was documented on video.
The rapidly spread video of Floyd’s death sparked a tremendous wave of occasionally violent protests around the country and brought attention to racial inequality and police brutality in the US.
The Memphis police officers are also accused of aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping in addition to second-degree murder.
According to the District Attorney Steve Mulroy to CNN, he said:
“After everyone sees the video, I don’t think they’ll have any questions about those charges.”
Following their viewing of the video, the family lawyers claimed to have witnessed “the horrific way in which he lost his life at the hands of Memphis police.”
Biden issued a calm call on Thursday, anticipating anger following the release of the footage.
The president said in a statement:
“As Americans grieve, the Department of Justice conducts its investigation, and state authorities continue their work, I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest.”