Tyre Nichols’ mother vows to fight for justice – as police unit is disbanded


The mother of Tyre Nichols has said she is “not going to stop” until every person responsible for her son’s death “is prosecuted to the fullest of the law”.

RowVaughn Wells said the officers accused of her son’s murder had “shamed their own families” after Memphis Police released bodycam footage showing her son screaming “mom, mom” several times as he was attacked.

“Even though this tragedy happened to my son, I truly believe that there is going to be a greater good that comes out of this,” Ms Wells told MSNBC.

“And that is what keeps me going to get this justice for my son, because I’m not going to stop until every person that had anything to do with my son’s death is prosecuted to the fullest of the law.”

Ms Wells said the officers had “shamed” their communities, adding: “You just brought a bad taste to everybody’s mouth.

“I hate the fact that it was five black men that actually did this to another black man. My son probably was their age.

“They just brought disgrace to themselves. I’m not an evil person, my son is not an evil person…. I pray for (the officers’) families, because their families didn’t deserve any of this either.”

RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols. Pic: AP
RowVaughn Wells spoke after the death of her son Tyre Nichols. Pic: AP

Ms Wells and Mr Nichols’ stepfather called for people to protest in a non-violent way.

She described her son a “beautiful person” who was “full of life”.

“He loved to skateboard, he loved to watch the sunsets. He was a great dad,” she added.

“He was just a good person. There’s no perfect person in this world, but he was close to it.”

Tyre Nichols
Tyre Nichols called out for his mother several times as he was being beaten

Punched, kicked and tasered

Shocking video released by police – including bodycam and CCTV footage – showed Mr Nichols screaming for his mother while being beaten by officers.

The 29-year-old was attacked for three minutes while officers shouted profanities at him.

Mr Nichols was 80 yards from his family home when he was beaten, according to his mother.

Tyre Nichols is first held down by police
Tyre Nichols is held down by police

In the footage of the attack, one camera shows the initial police stop at an intersection in Memphis, Tennessee.

“I’m going to baton the f*** out of you,” one officer can be heard saying. His body camera shows him raise his baton while at least one other officer holds Mr Nichols.

After the first officer roughly pulls Mr Nichols out of his car just after 8:20pm on 7 January this year, the FedEx worker can be heard saying “I didn’t do anything” as a group of officers begins to wrestle him to the ground.

An officer beats Tyre Nichols with his baton.
An officer beats Tyre Nichols with his baton

“Get on the ground!,” one officer yells, as another is heard shouting: “Tase him! Tase him!”

The father-of-one calmly replied soon after being wrestled to the pavement: “OK, I’m on the ground.”

Moments later, as the officers continue to shout, Mr Nichols says: “Man, I am on the ground.”

Tyre Nichols is seen beaten by police officers in video released by Memphis Police Department
The footage was released by Memphis Police

An officer yells: “Put your hands behind your back before I break your (expletive).”

Moments later an officer shouts: “Put your hands behind your back before I break them.”

“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Mr Nichols says loudly to the officers. “I’m just trying to go home.”

“Stop, I’m not doing anything,” he yells moments later.

Read more:
What is Scorpion, the police unit at the centre of Tyre Nichols’ death?
Timeline of violent arrest
Arrest video is sickening indictment of policing that night

The camera is briefly obscured and then Mr Nichols can be seen running as an officer fires a Taser at him. The officers then start chasing Mr Nichols.

He is then punched, kicked and hit with a baton. After the beating, officers mill about for several minutes while Mr Nichols lies propped up against the car, then slumps onto the street.

Emergency workers with what looks like medical equipment attend, but do not immediately intervene.

He died on 10 January, three days after the violent arrest.

Murder charges

Five officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes, including assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression over Mr Nichols’ death.

They are Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Tadarrius Bean and Justin Smith.

Clockwise from top left: Officers Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, Tadarrius Bean and Desmond Mills Jr have been sacked. Pic: Shelby County Sheriff's Office
Clockwise from top left: Police officers Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, Tadarrius Bean and Desmond Mills Jr have been charged with murder. Pic: Shelby County Sheriff’s Office

The officers have been dismissed by Memphis Police.

A memorial fund set up in the aftermath of Mr Nichols has topped $535,000 (£433,000).

The GoFundMe page, set up by Mr Nichols’ mother, is aimed at helping to pay for a memorial skate park in his honour, as well as to allow his family time off from their jobs to grieve and seek justice.

Protests were taking at least nine cities across the US – including Memphis – after the bodycam footage was released.

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