Another Black man whose suffocation by a white police officer in Minneapolis was caught on film. The young man’s death drew immediate comparisons with the May 2020 killing of George Floyd.
It seems at first like a garden-variety arrest for a traffic violation. But police videos released Friday of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols end with Memphis police officers kick-stomping and kneeling on the Black 29-year-old as he weakens from beatings.
He died in hospital on January 10, three days later. Bodycam footage shows Nichols on the ground, plaintively calling out three times: “Mom!” as the officers aim punches and kicks at his face. The longest of the four videos was from an overhead camera on a power pole in the southern US city. It lasts 31 minutes and has no sound.
Two minutes in, police officers are seen manhandling Nichols on the ground. As one kneels on his torso, another officer kicks him repeatedly. Officers are seen aiming several kicks at Nichols’ face. After repeated blows, the officers lift Nichols to a standing position, propping him up while pounding him with their fists until he falls to the asphalt when they aim two more kicks at his face.
One shines a flashlight on Nichols although the scene is fairly well illuminated by street lights. He lies face down on the ground. An officer pulls him over to a cruiser and puts him in a sitting position. Minutes pass with Nichols in clear agony. At least six officers mill about.
In one extended section, Nichols’ slumped body is propped sitting on the ground against a police car, his head lolling onto his chest and legs in front of him. His upper half repeatedly collapses to the ground only to be propped up again by the police in attendance.
More officers show up. They mill, circling the scene, waiting for emergency medical technicians to show up. There is no clear moment when it becomes apparent that the blows against Nichols would end up costing him his life.