The release of footage showing Memphis police brutally beating Tyre Nichols during a Jan. 7 traffic stop marks a “watershed moment for America,” his family’s lawyer said Sunday.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump called for federal police reform following the Jan. 10 death of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man. Five officers were charged with murder last Thursday, a day before Memphis officials made video of the violent encounter public.
“When we first saw [the footage] before America saw it, we said that it’s going to remind people of the Rodney King [police beating in 1991],” Crump said on CNN’s “State of the Union” show. “That was a watershed moment for America. I believe this video is a watershed moment for America.
“The only question that remains is how much progress have we made from [1991 with the] Rodney King video to 2023 with Tyre Nichols’ tragic video? What are our national leaders going to do?”
Authorities released more than an hour of footage, which shows Nichols yelling for his mother as he’s beaten.
Officers Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, Demetrius Haley and Desmond Mills Jr., who are Black, were all fired and charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
“I believe they will all be convicted of crimes,” Crump said. “Whether all of them are going to be convicted with murder, we have to continue to dissect this video, but one thing is for certain. … All of these officers failed their oath. They failed their oath to protect and serve. Look at that video. Was anybody trying to protect and serve Tyre Nichols?”
On Saturday, Memphis Police announced the permanent disbandment of the SCORPION unit the officers were part of. The department launched the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods unit in 2021.
With News Wire Services