Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis provided more details about video of the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols ahead of its release Friday, saying the footage is “about the same if not worse” than that of officers assaulting Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991.
“I was outraged. It was incomprehensible to me. I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything of that nature in my entire career,” Davis told CNN’s Don Lemon.
“You’re going to see acts that defy humanity,” she said. “You’re going to see a disregard for life, duty of care that we’re all sworn to, and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement.”
“Individuals watching will feel what the family felt, and if you don’t, then you’re not a human being,” Davis continued.
Memphis police pulled over Nichols, who was Black, for a traffic stop on Jan. 7. Nichols’ family said the 29-year-old father fled the scene in fear and police caught up to him and severely beat him for three minutes. Nichols was eventually taken to a hospital. He died on Jan. 10.
The police department fired the five officers involved — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmit Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — and they have been charged with second-degree murder along with other crimes.
Davis said the footage will be released Friday evening on YouTube so it can be accessible to all. The video is broken into four pieces that are relevant to the incident. Lemon said the footage is expected to come out after 7 p.m. ET.
The city of Memphis is bracing itself for protests after the video’s release. President Joe Biden said Thursday that he joins the Nichols family in calling for peaceful protests.
Davis denied that the video is being released late on a Friday to protect police officers. She said the decision was made to take into consideration people at work or school.
“We felt like Friday afternoon, if there were individuals who decided they want to peacefully protest, at least other individuals would have gone home, schools would be out, it wouldn’t be as disruptive as it would have been if we had released it on a Wednesday afternoon,” she said.
The police chief said that the footage would remind people of the police beating of King, which sparked riots after the four officers involved were found not guilty of excessive use of force in April 1992.
“I was in law enforcement during the Rodney King incident, and it’s very much aligned with that same type of behavior — that sort of groupthink,” Davis said.
Lemon asked Davis if she heard Nichols crying out for his mother in the video. She said she had.
“That’s why this incident, not just that, but just the disregard for humanity as I mentioned before, I think that’s what really just pulls at your heartstrings and makes you wonder why was a sense of care and concern for this individual just absent from the situation by all who went to the scene,” she said.