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What Memphis police videos show, and don’t show, about Tyre Nichols beating

Memphis police videos show the violent confrontation after officers stopped Tyre Nichols for an alleged traffic violation on Jan. 7. Nichols later died. (Video: The Washington Post)
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Editor’s note: The videos in this story contain graphic content.

The footage released by Memphis police Friday evening shows the violent confrontation after police stopped Tyre Nichols for an alleged traffic violation on Jan. 7. Nichols died in a hospital on Jan. 10.

The videos, which were edited by police before their release, were shot between 8:24 p.m. and 9:02 p.m. that night. The four clips collectively run about an hour in total.

They include footage from police body cameras at two locations — the intersection of East Raines and Ross roads, where officers approach Nichols’s car, and a residential neighborhood near his home. There is also a clip from a surveillance camera mounted on a pole in the neighborhood.

The Washington Post has reviewed the footage in detail. Here is a description of what each video shows.

Video one: Body-cam footage shows Tyre Nichols pulled from his car

Memphis police video shows the violent confrontation after officers stopped Tyre Nichols for an alleged traffic violation on Jan. 7. Nichols later died. (Video: Memphis Police Dept.)

In video clip one, Nichols is pulled from his car and pushed to the ground by a group of police officers.

“I didn’t do anything!” Nichols says as officers shout at him using expletives.

As Nichols is moved to the ground, a voice, presumably Nichols, can be heard saying: “You don’t do that, okay?” and “All right, I’m on the ground.”

Nichols appears calm and can be seen sitting on the ground, while officers shout commands at him: “Turn around! Right now! Get on the ground!”

“Okay, you guys are really doing a lot right now, stop,” Nichols says as multiple officers pin him to the ground and tell him to turn around and put his hands behind his back. “I’m just trying to go home!”

Video shows brutal Memphis police beating of Tyre Nichols

An officer warns Nichols, who is already on the ground, “Man, if you don’t lay down — ” to which Nichols responds “I am on the ground!”

The officer wearing the body camera appears to Taser Nichols, who is struggling to get away. After several seconds, Nichols gets up from the ground and sprints down the street.

The officer chases him, making a left turn and running about half a block before he stops, panting. He says over his radio: “Taser was deployed. Suspect is running down Ross [Road].”

“Young male Black, slim build, blue jeans, and a hoodie,” the officer says.

The officer arrives at an intersection with several others and appears out of breath. A sheriff’s car pulls up and an officer asks which way Nichols ran and for his description, then speeds off.

“I sprayed myself,” the officer wearing the body camera says, referring to pepper spray.

“Yeah, you sprayed me too,” another officers responds. “But luckily it didn’t get in my eyes, just on my eyebrow.”

The Memphis police remain in the intersection for several minutes and hear over their radio that Nichols has been found.

“I hope they stomp his a--,” one officer says as they wait.

“What?” another officer says.

“I hope they stomp his a--,” the officer repeats.

Video two: A security camera on a pole shows the beating

Memphis police video shows officers beating Tyre Nichols on Jan. 7. Nichols later died. (Video: Memphis Police Dept.)

This 30-minute clip, recorded by a security camera on a pole, has no sound, but shows Memphis police delivered at least two kicks and two baton strikes, and five punches to Tyre Nichols’s face.

Two officers are seen struggling with Nichols, who is lying on the pavement, as they appear to try to handcuff him. At 8:34 p.m., a third officer can be seen exiting a police car and approaching them. After appearing to say something, he then takes a kick at Nichols, though it is unclear whether he makes contact with his head or another body part, as the officer appears to slip.

The officer appears to say something else — then takes another kick or swipe with his right leg, appearing to aim at Nichols’s arm.

Moments later, a fourth officer arrives, brandishes his police baton, and strikes Nichols in the back. The officer strikes him a second time and, as Nichols struggles to his feet, perhaps to avoid more blows, the same officer who did the kicking circles around and punches him in the face. That officer then punches him four more times, as the first two officers restrain his arms.

After being hit and kicked for several moments, Nichols is handcuffed on his stomach. A police officer drags Nichols over to a car, where he sits him down.

At this point, there are at least seven officers on the scene, patting each other on the back and waving flashlights. Many are clearly out of breath; one fist-bumps another.

More than 15 minutes after the beating began, with Nichols in clear medical distress, no one is attending to his injuries. As police continue milling about, Nichols can no longer keep himself up with his back against the car and falls over to his side.

Timeline: Videos show Tyre Nichols waited 22 minutes for an ambulance

About 26 minutes into the clip, a medic appears and begins tending to Nichols’s injuries. At this point, three officers are largely blocking his body from the camera.

An ambulance finally comes into view of the camera 30 minutes into the video. The ambulance blocks the view of Nichols being loaded onto the stretcher, and the video ends with the ambulance’s red lights flashing in the video. A review of the timeline of events revealed that the ambulance arrived 22 minutes after officers announced Nichols was in custody.

Video three: Body-cam footage shows Nichols pinned by officers

Memphis police video shows the violent confrontation after officers stopped Tyre Nichols for an alleged traffic violation on Jan. 7. Nichols later died. (Video: Memphis Police Dept.)

Video clip three, from an officer’s body-camera video, provides audio of the assault shown in video two. The video shows an officer leaving his car and running up to Nichols, who is already pinned to the ground by two other officers.

“You about to get sprayed again,” the officer says as he gets to the scene. Then he pepper-sprays Nichols in the face, and Nichols screams in pain. “Mom!” Nichols yells, shielding his face. “Give me your hands boy,” another officer says.

After the spray, the two other officers punch Nichols in the stomach and head. “Give me your f---ing hands,” one officer says. “I’ll spray your a-- again.”

Three other officers alternate punching Nichols in the face and corralling his hands to handcuff him. One officer punches Nichols in the head from behind while he’s handcuffed. The officers then take him to the ground.

The officer is completely out of breath and steps away from the altercation before turning back to Nichols, who is on the ground five feet away, pinned down by two officers.

What is the Scorpion unit? Tyre Nichols’s family attorney decries the group.

“Watch out, I’m going to baton the f--- out of you,” he says as the other officers move aside. The officers continuing yelling, “give me your hands. Give me your hands, motherf---er.” Nichols is moaning in response.

As the dust settles, and Nichols is pinned to the ground by multiple officers, other arriving officers come into view of the video, appearing to gear up to take some swings of their own.

“That motherf---er made me spray myself,” one officer can be heard saying.

The officer turns away. He walks away and says to another officer, “Let me get my car quick.”

Video 4: Body-cam footage captures audio of Nichols screaming for his mother

Memphis police video shows the violent confrontation after officers stopped Tyre Nichols for an alleged traffic violation on Jan. 7. Nichols later died. (Video: Memphis Police Dept.)

The fourth video briefly shows footage of the beating, with the body camera apparently knocked off moments after the confrontation began.

It shows Nichols on the ground, yelling “No!” as multiple officers surround him.

With the video obscured, the footage instead captures distressing audio: Nichols screaming for his mother, again and again.

Scenes of reaction across the country to the release of the Tyre Nichols video by Memphis police

Officers are heard demanding he give them his hands, or lie on the ground. For a time, the audio captures only the sound of someone heavily breathing.

When the camera is apparently picked up, it provides for the first time a clear image of the scene: At least five officers standing in the area, one of them shining a flashlight. The beam of light illuminates Nichols’s face as he sits, propped up against a car, his hands behind his back.

Blood is visible around his mouth.

Officers are heard comparing notes on their use of force. One officer is heard saying that officers fired pepper spray and deployed a Taser. Another says that Nichols reached for another officer’s gun.

Officers can be heard discussing their chase of Nichols and appearing winded. At least one officer complains about his leg hurting. An officer says Nichols appears to be “on something.”

In the background, while the officers talk, Nichols, who has been leaning against a car, is seen toppling over to the ground.

“Hey, sit up, bro,” the officer wearing the body camera appears to say.

The officer approaches Nichols and appears to lift him up. When he does, the light captures Nichols’s face and again shows blood around his mouth. It is unclear whether he is conscious or not.

What the videos don’t show

In an interview with The Post, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said there’s a gap in the video record her department is releasing: Authorities don’t have any video footage of the initial traffic stop.

Tyre Nichols case is ‘defining moment’ for Memphis chief Cerelyn Davis

The officer who initially stopped Nichols was driving a brand-new unmarked car that was not equipped with dashboard cameras, Davis said. The unit is assigned patrol cars, but they have the option to drive unmarked cars if they’re carrying out surveillance.

Davis said she doesn’t know why the officer was in an unmarked car, or how the initial encounter between Nichols and the officer unfolded.

When the video begins, “this officer and the other officer that joined were already ramped up about Mr. Nichols in his car,” Davis said. “If something did happen we don’t know what it was. They allege that he was driving on the wrong side of the road but we have not been able to prove that.”

Joyce Sohyun Lee contributed to this report.

The death of Tyre Nichols

The latest: An official autopsy report shows Tyre Nichols died from “blunt force trauma,” lawyers say. The Nichols’s family is suing the city of Memphis and police officers over the brutal beating. The Justice Department will review the Memphis Police Department’s use-of-force policies and practices.

What has Memphis police footage revealed?: The race of the five officers charged in the Nichols killing has sparked a complex dialogue on institutional racism in policing. Some of the most haunting videos came from SkyCop cameras.

Who was Tyre Nichols?: The 29-year-old father was pepper-sprayed, punched and kicked by Memphis cops after a January traffic stop. He was pronounced dead at a hospital three days after his arrest. At Tyre Nichols’ funeral service, his family said they are focused on getting justice.

What is the Scorpion unit?: After the fallout from the brutal beating, Memphis police shut down the Scorpion unit. Each of the five former Memphis police officers pleaded not guilty in Nichols’s death.