In life, Tyre Nichols loved sunsets. Each evening, he would watch the sky as it changed color, often snapping photos of the view, his mother said.
Nichols was stopped by police who said he was driving recklessly on the evening of Jan. 7. The unarmed 29-year-old was pulled from his car, then shocked, pepper-sprayed, kicked, punched and struck with a baton by five officers who have been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping, among other counts. He died on Jan. 10, leaving behind a 4-year-old son.
Body-camera footage of the violent arrest was released Friday, renewing anger and protests over police brutality nationwide. Many expressed horror at the footage, which showed Nichols repeatedly calling out for his mother as he was pummeled.
Some others took to social media to urge people not to share the video, but to post images of sundown instead.
“Let’s flood this vile darkness, with Tyre’s incandescent light,” read one tweet that urged people to use the hashtag #SunsetsForTyre to share their own images. “From what I have seen Tyre Nichols liked to take pictures of sunsets. Me too. Here is one of mine to honor him and his too-short life,” read another tweet.
The video of #TyreNichols horrid murder has been released. To stand up to his cruel death, we must honor his beautiful life. Tyre was a gifted photographer, who loved sunsets. Let’s flood this vile darkness, with Tyre’s incandescent light. Please share photos of #SunsetsForTyre🌅 pic.twitter.com/G075DbLDKS— Nathalie Robin Justice Gravel (@welcomewords) January 28, 2023
“My son, every night, wanted to go and look at the sunset,” Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, said at a news conference Friday, describing him as a “gentle soul” who “loved to take pictures.” Wells said Nichols would often watch the sun go down from Memphis’s Shelby Farms Park.
“Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way,” Nichols wrote on his website, titled This California Kid. “I take different types of photography, anywhere from action sports to rural photos, to bodies of water and my favorite.. landscape photography.”
Tyre Nichols loved sunsets. I think it would be beautiful if we all shared photos of sunsets in his honor 🌅 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/jUYxtr7GEW— 🇲🇽 Sabreezie 🇮🇪 (@sf_gamerbabe118) January 28, 2023
I read that #TyreNichols loved to photograph sunsets. This was my backyard this evening. Snowflakes were falling like too many lost dreams on their way back to earth. pic.twitter.com/bCFt2hPlKz— NoelCaslerComedy🌙 (@caslernoel) January 27, 2023
A photograph taken from a plane window was accompanied by a simple message from singer Anita Baker: “A Sunset, for #TyreNichols.”
A Sunset, for #TyreNichols pic.twitter.com/LtUrArB4xx— Anita Baker (@IAMANITABAKER) January 28, 2023
A GoFundMe page created by the Nichols family has raised almost $1 million.
“We want to build a memorial skate park for Tyre, in honor of his love for skating and sunsets,” the page says.
Victoria Bisset, Hadley Green and Robert Klemko contributed to this report.
The death of Tyre Nichols
The latest: The Justice Department is launching a review of the Memphis Police Department’s use of force policies and practices. Each of the five former Memphis police officers pleaded not guilty in Tyre Nichols’ death. One of the officers texted a photo of bloodied Tyre to colleagues, according to records.
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.