Protests erupt across US after video of fatal police beating of Black man
The release of a graphic video showing five Black police officers beating to death an African-American man in Memphis, Tennessee, has prompted widespread protests in several major cities across the US.
The rallies broke out late Friday shortly after the release of police bodycam footage showing five Memphis officers violently kicking, punching, tasing, and pepper-spraying 29-year-old Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop on January 7.
The video also showed officers and medical personnel failing to intervene as Nichols could not sit upright after the assault, with Memphis’ police commissioner acknowledging that the clip depicts “acts that defy humanity.”
The officers involved in the fatal beating of the African-American man have been charged with second-degree murder. The five 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 over aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression in addition to second-degree murder.
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.
Following the release of the explosive video, crowds flocked to the streets in Memphis and at least seven other major American cities of New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, and Portland.
According to new data released earlier this month, US police killed at least 1,176 people in 2022, making it the deadliest year on record for police violence in the country since experts first started tracking the killings.
Studies show that police use force on Black people at vastly higher rates than on white people, including electroshock weapons such as Tasers, dog bites, batons, and beatings. These are often misapplied in situations involving problematic substance use, homelessness, mental health conditions, and poverty.