By Joseph Green-Bishop
Texas Metro News Correspondent
A frightening silence fell over the city of Memphis, as others staged demonstrations across the country, including in Dallas on Botham Jean Blvd., after the release on Friday of police videos that showed the brutally fatal beating of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.
Videos show the African American man beaten, kicked, pepper sprayed and tased by five African American police officers, who have since been fired and charged with second degree murder.
“I am just trying to go home,” you could hear Mr. Nichols saying on the video. He had just finished skating on the evening of January 7 at a nearby park when his car was stopped by officers who snatched him from the vehicle, threw him to the ground and took turns beating and kicking him, according to a video released by the Memphis Police Department.
He broke away from officers but was eventually apprehended and the beating continued. Hospitalized after the incident, Mr. Nichols died on January 10.
As groups of citizens gathered throughout the city to protest on Friday, Mr. Nichols’s mother, Mrs. RowVaughn Wells, demanded justice for her son. “No mother should experience what I am experiencing,” she said.
Mrs. Wells said that she had been told by those who had viewed the video of its brutality, because she could not bring herself to watch it and urged other parents to prevent their children from viewing it. Her son cried out for her during the incident, saying ‘mom…. mom…mom,’ she added. “The officers denied his humanity, He was calling out my name while being beaten.”
Mr. Nichols, whose passions included caring for his young child and skateboarding, was less than the length of a football field away from his mother’s home when he was approached by the officers who were assigned to a special Memphis police crime-fighting unit.
“I want to say to the five police officers who murdered my son that you have disgraced yourselves and disgraced your families,” said Mrs. Wells, who received a condolence call from President Joe Biden.
Memphis Police Chief, Cerelyn J. Davis harshly criticized the five men who worked in the department she leads. “This is not just a professional failing,” she said. “This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual.”
Chief Davis was a deputy police chief in Atlanta and chief of police in Durham, North Carolina before taking the Memphis position in 2021. Highly respected in national law enforcement circles, Davis has testified before legislative panels in Washington and was a leader in NOBLE, a national organization of African American Police professionals.
Former Dallas Police Department SWAT leader and trainer, Arthur Busby, characterized the beating of Mr. Nichols by the five police officers as “unnecessary and an embarrassment to all members of law enforcement.”
“The job of police is to protect people,” said Mr. Busby who joined the Dallas Police Force in 1973, and retired as a Senior Corporal 30 years later. “What happened to that young man should not happen to the worst of Klansmen.”
“It was a sad day, a shame for policing, and a great tragedy for the young man’s friends and family,” Mr. Busby, who is African American and still works as a reserve police officer, added. “I am outraged that those officers acted as they did, and that their immediate supervisors did not do what they should have done to prevent the death of Mr. Nichols.”