The Memphis Police Department on Friday released body camera video showing black motorist Tyre Nichols being brutally beaten, pepper sprayed and tasered by multiple cops during a traffic stop earlier this month.

The appalling beatdown that led to Nichols’ death in the hospital days later only lasted about three minutes out of the hour-long footage released by police.

The distressing footage was made public just days after being showed privately to Nichols’ family and their legal team, who likened the man’s beating to that of Rodney King at the hands of Los Angeles police officers in 1991.

Prior to the recording’s release, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis described the incident as “heinous, reckless and inhumane” — but at the same time urged the community not to lash out in violence in response to the video.

Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx worker and young father, was driving home on Jan. 7 after taking sunset photos in a suburban park when he was pulled over for suspected reckless driving.

A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx worker and father, was beaten by a group of police officers after a traffic stop in Memphis on Jan. 7.

Tyre Nichols is pictured in the hospital before his death.
Nichols died in the hospital three days after what his family’s attorney described as a “savage” beating.
Family of Tyre Nichols

Police said in a statement the day after the encounter that “a confrontation occurred” as officers approached the vehicle and Nichols ran; they said officers caught up to him and that ”another confrontation occurred” while they were taking him into custody.

According to the department, Nichols complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a hospital, where he died three days later.

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, who was shown the video ahead of its release, said she has been unable to watch the whole video but several people close to her have and described it for her.

“All I heard my son say was, ‘What did I do?’ I just lost it from there,’’ she told CNN.

She recalled how in the video her son “cried out for me’’ while he was “beat like a piñata.”

One of the attorneys representing Nichols’ family described the beating as “savage” and said that the motorist was treated like “a human piñata.”

Five black officers — identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith — were charged with Nichols’ murder and surrendered to law enforcement on Thursday. They are charged with aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression in addition to second-degree murder.

All five were sprung from the Shelby County Jail Friday morning after each posted between a $250,000 and $350,000 bail.

They were fired from the department last Friday after an internal investigation found that they used excessive force and failed their duties to intervene and render aid.

In a video statement Wednesday, Chief Davis said the five cops “were found to be directly responsible” for Nichols’ death.

Memphis police officers (L-R) Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean were fired for their roles in Nichols’ arrest.
Memphis police officers (L-R) Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean were fired for their roles in Nichols’ arrest.

Speaking of the now-former officers’ conduct, Chief Davis said: “This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity towards another individual.”

Relatives have accused the police of causing Nichols to have a heart attack and kidney failure, but his official cause of death has yet to be released near three weeks after his arrest.

News of the body camera video’s release sparked concerns about possible outbreaks of violence in Memphis and other cities, where law enforcement agencies braced for protests and civil unrest.

In her appeal to the community, Memphis’ top cop said she expected citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest and demand action, but stressed that it was not an excuse “for inciting violence or destruction.”

Tyre Nichols is seen in an undated photo.
Nichols was driving home from a park when he was pulled over, allegedly for driving in a reckless manner.
Family of Tyre Nichols

Nichols’ family has pleaded for peaceful protests ahead of the release of bodycam video of the incident Friday evening, as protesters in Memphis, New York City, Los Angeles and other cities across the country prepared to take to the streets.

President Joe Biden joined the family in their call for peaceful protests: “Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable,” he said in a written statement. “Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.”

Davis has insisted that the chilling incident did not involve race. Nichols is black, as are the five charged cops. In 2021, the Memphis force had about 56% black officers in a city that is about 65% black, according to a Fox TV affiliate


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