The police bodycam video footage from this month’s violent arrest of a Black motorist in Memphis who later died from his injuries is expected to be released on Monday. But a city councilman who claims to have already been told about the contents of the footage has said the video is “disgusting and “damaging” to the point that the police officers involved should prepare to face criminal charges.
On Friday, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) fired the five officers involved stemming from their roles on Jan. 7 when, according to the law enforcement narrative, Nichols was suspected of reckless driving. MPD said “a confrontation occurred” after officers approached Nichols, who “fled on foot.” A second unspecified “confrontation” occurred when MPD tried to take Nichols into custody, police said.
“Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called to the scene. The suspect was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition,” MPD said of Nichols, who died Jan. 10 at the age of 29.
Graphic photos of Nichols in the hospital quickly went viral on social media.
Councilman Frank Colvett, Jr. suggested that the police description of the series of events that led to and included Nichols’ arrest was a serious understatement.
“I have spoken to several people who have actually seen the video. … I have been told it’s disgusting, it’s damaging; it’s not good even slightly,” Colvett, Jr. told FOX13 before continuing later: “It’s bad. That was one, the overarching thing that I heard.”
Colvette Jr. predicted widespread outrage beyond Memphis once the arrest bodycam video footage is made public.
“We’re all going to be very disgusted and want the maximum penalty for these officers,” Colvett Jr. added.
Memphis reporter Shay Arthur tweeted early Monday afternoon that MPD had met with Nichols’ family earlier in the day and was working on determining the best time to release the footage to the public.
Nichols’ sister previously reacted angrily when she learned the five officers involved — all Black men — had been fired.
“To see their faces makes me angry,” Keyana Dixon, Nichols’ older sister, told the Memphis Commercial Appeal on Friday. “I’m trying to hold it together, but my heart has been ripped open. This is torture.”
Nichols’ older brother likened the death to Emmett Till.
“Knowing the history of police interactions with the Black community throughout time, these men took a position of power and instead of doing something to better the future and honor the past, they became no better than the days of Emmett Till,” Jamal Dupree said in a joint statement with friend Angelina Paxton. “They have let us all down. Justice will be served to them.”
This is America.
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