SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A candlelight vigil will be held for Tyre Nichols on Monday at a Sacramento skate park; the 29-year-old had lived in Northern California before he moved to Memphis in 2020 and was later beaten to death by police.
Over the years, Nichols had spent a lot of time at his neighborhood skate park in North Natomas, and his friends in Sacramento are devastated about what happened to him.
"He was just such a genuine person and just such a good friend and to see that happen is it's just very sad," Jerome Neal told KCRA over the weekend. "He was super sweet, super kind. Very humble."
Growing up in Sacramento, Nichols spent much of his time at a skate park on the outskirts of the city. It could be a rough place sometimes for younger kids. But when Niko Chapman was 10 years old, his parents would let him walk to the park alone as long as they knew Nichols was there.
"You remember people that are really kind to you, and Tyre was just a really kind person," Chapman said. "He just always made me feel really welcome."
Chapman’s dad, Curtis Chapman, ran a youth group at a local church that would often meet at the skate park for pizza. Nichols quickly became a regular, bringing his energetic spirit and quick wit. But away from the group, Nichols would often show up at the Chapman house to talk about life — including coming to grips with being a young parent.
Nichols was on his way home from taking pictures of the sky on Jan. 7, when police pulled him over. He was just a few minutes from the home he shared with his mother and stepfather, when he was brutally attacked by five Memphis police officers.
He died three days later at a hospital, and the officers have since been charged with second-degree murder and other offenses.
The video of his brutal attack was released on Friday, prompting a wave of protests across the country.
Friends don't want the world to remember Tyre getting beaten as their last memories of him. So they shared other stories about the man he was.
That included being an amateur photographer.
"Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way. It expresses me in ways I cannot write down for people," he wrote on his website. He preferred landscapes and loved the glow of sunsets most, his family has said.
"My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what I am seeing through my eye and out through my lens," Nichols wrote. "People have a story to tell, why not capture it."
As many in the country protested his death, his mother asked for calm.
"Nobody’s perfect, nobody. But he was damn near," his mother, RowVaughn Wells, said at a news conference, moments after she watched the video of her son being beaten. "He was damn near perfect."
He was the baby of their family, born 12 years after his closest siblings.
He had a 4-year-old son and worked hard to better himself as a father, his family said.
He moved from Sacramento to Memphis just before the coronavirus pandemic and got stuck.
But he was fine with it because he was with his mother, and they were incredibly close, Wells said.
He had her name tattooed on his arm.
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: The vigil will be held Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Regency Community Skatepark in North Natomas.
The Associated Press and KCRA contributed to this report.