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Tyre Nichols’ family reacts as Memphis Police will release video of confrontation with police

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Posted at 9:18 AM, Jan 27, 2023

Memphis Police is expected to release bodycam video footage of Tyre Nichols’ confrontation with police, one day after prosecutors charged five former officers with his death. Former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith were all charged with murder.

Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after a confrontation with the officers. The officers have since been fired.

Officials said video footage has been shown to Nichols’ family. RowVaughn Wells, Nichols' mother, said she could not watch the video in its entirety due to its graphic nature. She advised other parents not to allow their children to watch the video.

Wells joined community leaders and her attorneys for a news conference on Friday hours before the expected release of the video.

"He told me he was going to be famous, but I didn’t know it would from this," she said.

Family attorney Ben Crump said that Nichols called out for his mom during the confrontation.

"For a mother to know that their child was calling them in their need and I wasn’t there for him?" said Wells."Do you know how I feel right now because I wasn't there for my son?"

"I had a pain in my stomach earlier not knowing what had happened but once I found out what had happened, that was my son's pain and I didn't even know. For me to find out my son was calling out my name and I was only feet away and didn't even hear him, you have no clue how I feel right now," she added.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis told CNNon Friday that the video will show “acts that defy humanity.”

“You're going to see a disregard for life, a duty of care that we're all sworn to, and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement,” she added in her interview with CNN.

David Rausch, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director, echoed similar sentiments Thursday during a news conference.

“I am grieved. Frankly, I'm shocked. I am sickened by what I saw,” he said. “What happens here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal.”

President Joe Biden contacted the Nichols family on Friday to express his condolences.

“During the conversation, the president commended the family's courage and strength,” the White House said in a statement.

The Department of Justice said on Friday that it opened a civil rights investigation last week on the case. FBI Director Christopher Wray said he had reviewed the video and he was "appalled."

"I am struggling to find a stronger word, but I was appalled," Wray said.

Wray said all FBI field offices have been alerted to coordinate a response to protests that could potentially get out of hand.

Blake Ballin, attorney for Mills, was unhappy with the comments made by prosecutors.

“To say things like that when you have a tinder box that we are all concerned about, I have questions about whether those were the right words to use, whether this was the right timing and whether the government should be saying things about people who are innocent until proven guilty when you know that's going to be broadcast to potential jurors,” he said.

Crump applauded prosecutors for pressing charges within weeks of the incident. He said it should be a "blueprint" for how other cases of alleged police misconduct should be handled.

"We want to proclaim that this is the blueprint going forward for any time, any officers... will be held accountable," he said.

Crump noted that all five officers arrested were Black, and that white officers have not been disciplined as quickly in other cases.