Police beat driver Tire Nichols for three minutes, killing him, the family says after watching video of the incident.
Human rights activists have called for “accountability and justice” after a motorist was beaten to death by police in Tennessee, in the latest incident of police violence to roil the United States.
Tire Nichols died after a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee earlier this month. On Tuesday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Nichols family, said police had taken the 29-year-old away from his family, community members and four-year-old son.
“Accountability and justice is the only way forward,” Crump tweeted.
Crump’s comments come after Nichols’ family and lawyers were allowed to see the body art that was taken on Monday, sparking outrage. The footage has not been released to the public, but lawyers said the video showed him being beaten for three minutes in what they described as a “horrific” incident.
He was defenseless the entire time. He was a human piñata for those police officers,” Antonio Romanucci, Crump’s counsel, told reporters on Monday.
“It was an unadulterated, shameless, continuous beating of this boy for three minutes. This is what we saw in the video. “
The lawyers said the authorities promised to release the video within the next two weeks. Several local, state and federal agencies are investigating the incident.
Police said they tried to arrest Nichols, a black man, on January 10 for reckless driving, but “a struggle ensued” as he tried to flee on foot. Nichols was taken to the hospital where he died three days later.
Police announced Friday that the five officers involved in the operation have been fired after an investigation found they used excessive force or failed to intervene and render aid to Nichols.
“The Memphis Police Department is committed to protecting and protecting the rights of every citizen in our city,” Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said in a statement. “The severity of this incident does not reflect the good work that our officers do, honestly, every day.”
All five officers are black, but Crump said that was irrelevant, stressing that black and brown drivers often face discrimination regardless of the race of the police and that the pain of Nichols’ death “is the same”.
Crump compared the Nichols case to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by police in Los Angeles, which sparked violent protests and sparked calls for police reform.
“Sadly, it reminded us [the] The Rodney King movie,” Crump said. “Sadly, unlike Rodney King, Tire did not survive.”
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said her son was “killed” by police. “My son did not use drugs. He did not carry a gun. He didn’t like to argue. None of that. That is why this is difficult,” he said.
Nichols’ death comes two years after the global protests for justice and an end to police brutality following the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer who knelt on his neck.
The US Congress has struggled to pass major reforms to the police to deal with excessive force inquiries despite calls from the public.