The video of Nichols’ arrest and subsequent assault at the hands of Memphis Police officers was released around 7:00 p.m. EST on Friday (January 27), nearly three weeks after the incident occurred on January 7. According to Sky News, the video is an hour-long compilation of four clips captured by police bodycams and CCTV cameras.
The footage captures a first altercation, during which a police officer drags the 29-year-old out of his car, cursing at him and threatening bodily harm as the man asks why he is being detained and comments on the aggressive manner in which he is being handled.
Moments after he’s wrestled to the ground, then Tyre Nichols briefly breaks free before being tased and repeatedly kicked, punched and struck with batons. The footage also shows Memphis PD officers pepper spraying the victim and punching him in the face.
Tyre Nichols died from his injuries three days after the attack.
In the hours ahead of the release of the footage, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis issued a statement urging the public to remain calm. “I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels,” she said. “I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights.”
The Hip Hop community and others have reacted just as Davis expected, with Tennessee native Young Buck reposting a clip of his song “Riot,” which he recorded in response to the 2016 deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The two men were killed during traffic stops in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Minneapolis, Minnesota, respectively.
The clip opens with audio of a 2Pac interview, then finds Buck threatening to take matters into his own hands: “I can kill a cop with this Glock if I’m blinded/ You ain’t got no heart mother fucker better find it/ Look how they just killed Alton, then rewind it/ We are not on that peace shit, my n-ggas wilding.”
Following the release of the footage, Pusha T took to Instagram with a post that read “#TyreNichols didn’t deserve this… [broken heart emoji].” In the caption, he called out the five officers charged with the man’s murder, writing: “Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, Desmond Mills, You have failed our people…”
Royce Da 5’9″ also focused his response to the footage on the MPD officers, who have all been fired and charged with second-degree murder and other charges related to Nichols’ death. The Detroit rapper shared the officers’ department headshots, with a caption that read: “Look up Anthony Johnson circa 1651 … First Black man who was a slave that got free and then, owned slaves… Interesting read…”
On Twitter, Coi Leray called for “JUSTICE FOR TYRE NICHOLS,” while Russ spoke out about the violent nature of the footage. “That footage is sickening smh rip tyre nichols [prayer hands emojis],” he tweeted, “despicable completely unnecessary behavior on the cops part.”
While calls came from many across social media not to repost the footage, rapper turned activist Mysonne included a portion of the video in an Instagram post, expressing his anger and outrage in a caption that highlighted the systemic issues that led to the violent incident.
“#CowardCulture,” Mysonne started. “These officers are a product of a system that’s been taught that black life has no value! These cowards would never harm a white man who spit on them and threaten to kill them but they executed a harmless young black man because they thought they could !!”
He continued: “The blue uniform and the structural racism behind it is the problem!! We Need Something Different!! I’m outraged , I’m hurt , I’m Angry but I’m also ready to Make this shit change!! Rest In Power Tyre Nichols you were murdered for nothing by Cowards!! #BoycottBlackMurder .. only a coward could enjoy something like this!!”
In one of two IG posts resharing the clips of Tyre Nichols’ deadly encounter with Memphis Police, Funk Flex turned his anger towards Black Lives Matter activists demanding a response. “WHEN THE OFFICERS ARE NOT WHITE EVERYONE MOVES ON???,” the Hot 97 personality wrote. “REALLY TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THE WAY THESE BLACK OFFICERS ARE BEATING THIS BLACK YOUNG MAN TO DEATH…
“REALLY WATCH IT! (BEATEN WHILE HAND CUFFED BY 5 OFFICERS?????),” Flex continued. “FEW YARDS AWAY FROM HIS HOME… AS HE YELLED FIR HIS MOM… AND HES A FATHER @blklivesmatter (BLACK LIVES MATTER) Y’all BUSY SPENDING THAT STOLEN MONEY???? YALL AVAILABLE OR NAH???? YALL SEEN THESE OR FUCKING NO????? WHERE IS THE PROTEST???????”
Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have issued separate statements in response to the violent footage.
“My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’ family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss,” the President wrote in a tweet, with a full statement attached. “There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a beloved child and young father.”
Vice President Harris echoed those sentiments, tweeting: “Tyre Nichols should have made it home to his family. Yet tonight, once again, America mourns a life brutally cut short at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. I join President Biden in his call for accountability and transparency.”
Following Chief Davis’ statement, Fox News reported that businesses in Memphis had begun preparing for potentially volatile protests in the wake of the footage by boarding up store fronts across the city’s downtown areas.
Seemingly in response to the report, which was picked up by other outlets, Lecrae shared a portion of the conversation his family had about the incident. “My daughter asked…”is the marching or protesting going to change anything?’ #TyreNichols,” the Reach Records founder wrote.
According to the Associated Press, on Thursday (January 26) the five officers involved in Tyre Nichols death were each charged with aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression in addition to the second-degree murder charges.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy explained the kidnapping charges by stating that, “If it was a legal detention to begin with, it certainly became illegal at a certain point and was an unlawful detention.”
Tyre Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells told AP that while the family had initially hoped for first-degree murder charges, he and his wife RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother, were “fine with” the District Attorney’s decision to reduce the murder charge while addressing the officers’ additional crimes.
Read on for additional reactions to the Tyre Nichols case from the Hip Hop world.