San Francisco protestors and law enforcement call for justice in Memphis police beating of Tyre Nichols
SAN FRANCISCO - Protestors marched downtown in San Francisco, shouting their support for the family of Tyre Nichols and their horror at the video footage released Friday showing Nichols being beaten by Memphis police during a traffic stop on Jan. 7.. Nichols died in a hospital three days later.
The release of four video clips, totaling about an hour of footage, by Memphis police sparked a national outcry and outrage from citizens and law enforcement officers nationwide.
"I did see clips of the video. I could not stomach the whole video," Stephanie Gentry, one of the protestors who spoke at the march and rally.
"I saw a bit of the video at work, actually. It was...horrifying," said a San Francisco resident who goes by the name Katia.
The protestors marched down Market Street to U.N. Plaza near San Francisco city hall. It was a peaceful march with San Francisco police cars and motorcycle units blocking traffic, so the protestors could move safely down the street.
Protestors carried signs calling for "Justice for Tyre" and demanding a change in police culture and an end to police brutality.
Three of the video clips were taken from officers' body camera footage. One recording came from a pole-mounted camera that appeared to be across the street. That video, though distant, shows the most violent images of Nichols being repeatedly kicked, hit with a police baton, and punched in the head as a group of officers circled and restrained him.
THE VIDEO CLIPS:
Video 1: (11 minutes) The body camera recording released by Memphis police shows the officer approaching a car where two other officers had stopped Nichols just before 8:25 p.m. One officer pulls him out of his car. Nichols is heard saying "I didn't do anything." Officers for what they say was a traffic stop. The body camera movement makes the picture shaky, but it captures the chaotic, loud, scene with officers shouting "Get on the ground." The camera captures Nichols saying "Alright, I'm down on the ground" as two officers hold him down. Nichols says "I'm just trying to go home." An officer fires a taser at Nichols as he stands up and runs away.
Video 2: (31 minutes) From a street pole, a camera shows the most graphic view of the beating. The camera placed high up, shows officers at a second intersection as they catch Nichols reportedly two blocks from his home. The street camera shows a time of 8:32 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, and pans from an empty street to a full view of several police vehicles and a number of officers surrounding Nichols and beating him.
That street camera video shows Nichols surrounded by two officers restraining him on the ground.
Then, a third officer approaches from behind a police car and kicks Nichols twice in the head.
A fourth officer later walks up and with a swift action and extends a telescoping baton. He beats Nichols three times in the back with the stick while other officers hold him.
About a minute later, the camera shows Nichols standing, being restrained by officers while he's punched in the head and body at least seven times by another officer.
Later, the police officers kick Nichols again while he is face down on the ground.
Video 3: (six minutes) Body camera footage from the officer who was wielding the baton captures Nichols' cries "Mom, mom, mom." The officer draws close and deploys pepper spray at Nichols while he is being restrained. Two minutes later the officer's camera footage shows him raise a baton and strike Nichols.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 27: A photo of Tyre Nichols is positioned prior to a press conference on January 27, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee. Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died three days after being severely beaten by five Memphis Police De
Nichols died at the hospital three days later. A photo shows damage and injuries to his face and upper body.
Video 4: (19 minutes) Footage from another police body camera shows an officer pulling up at the second site and chasing what appears to be Nichols around 8:32 p.m.
SEE ALSO: Tyre Nichols videos leave many questions unanswered about Memphis father's death
Attorneys for the five former police officers expressed concern about getting a fair trial. Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Emmitt Martin, Justin Smith, and Tadarrius Bean are the officers facing charges.
"I would just caution the public to reserve judgment... you're gonna feel things. You're gonna experience emotions, uh, but know that there's always more to the story," said Blake Ballin, Desmond Mills Jr's defense attorney.
"I'm glad they released it because I think we need to see how bad this is," said Ramsey Robinson, a San Francisco resident who helped organize the protest, "That black police officers are beating on a black man, I think it shows how rotten and corrupt the system is."
Many protestors said it didn't matter to them whether the officers were all Black or, in other cases, if the officers are white.
"We're not complaining about the cops because the cops happen to be white, and it's not better for us to be beaten by a black cop. The problem is the cops," said Lisa Eugene, who belongs to the Party for Socialism and Liberation which organized the rally.
RELATED: Body cam footage of Tyre Nichols’ beating prompts demonstrations in Memphis, New York, DC
An outcry from law enforcement officers also followed the release of the videos. A coalition of San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Hawaii police unions issued a statement calling the beating "repugnant."
"Their brutalization of Mr. Nichols was horrific and for his family to have to view the video of Tyre suffering through those evil acts is unfathomable," said the statement.
Protesters block traffic as they rally against the fatal police assault of Tyre Nichols, in Memphis, Tennessee, Jan. 27, 2023. (SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott released a statement on video saying "What I and everyone else saw on the video images reflect a disregard for the sanctity of human life and is the antithesis of the oath we as law enforcement officers were all sworn to uphold."
The San Mateo Police Department also issued a statement saying "we understand the actions of five Memphis law enforcement officers tarnishes the badge of every police officer in America. Know that we stand with you against police brutality and we are working each day to raise the bar for the policing profession."
Another rally for Nichols is being planned for Sunday in Oakland.