Tyre Nichols, 29, died in Memphis, Tennessee on January 10 just three days after being arrested by members of the city’s police department. Now, residents are still waiting to see the body camera footage of the arrest that seemingly led to the death.
On Wednesday, Memphis Police Chief Cherelyn Davis said the footage would be released on Friday at 6pm EST.
The video is expected to be approximately an hour long and was has been redacted in some parts.
She said the upcoming release of police body camera footage from the night of 7 January would likely make watchers feel “outraged by the disregard for basic human rights.”
She called the officers’ actions “heinous, reckless, and inhumane,” and said that officers displayed a “failing of basic humanity towards another individual.”
Along with the clear condemnation of the officers’ actions, Ms Davis also asked the public not to respond to the footage with violence and destruction.
“I expect our citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest, to demand action and results,” she said. “But, we need to ensure our community is safe in this process.”
Mr Nichols was initially pulled over for reckless driving on January 7 and allegedly fled from police. He complained of difficulty breathing shortly after police confronted him and was taken to an area hospital, where he died.
The five officers involved in Mr Nichols’ arrest were fired last week, which civil rights advocates heralded as a step towards justice for Mr Nichols.
But those advocates believe there is still a long way to go before justice is fully served in the death of another Black American following a confrontation with police.
A range of public officials connected to the case promised that the body camera footage of the arrest would be released as soon as Mr Nichols’ family and its attorney, prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, had an opportunity to view the footage privately.
Officials initially appeared to be walking that promise back. After announcing that they had met with Mr Nichols family on Monday morning to “facilitate a viewing of video recordings,” the Memphis Police Department said that it was not quite prepared to release the footage publicly.
“Transparency remains a priority in this incident, and the premature release could adversely impact the criminal investigation and the judicial process,” Chief Cerelyn Davis said in a release. “We are working with the District Attorney’s Office to determine the appropriate time to release video recording publicly.”
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy issued a similar statement, alleging that releasing the video now could compromise the investigation and that the video could be released later this week or next week.
“Earlier today, we met with the family of Tyre Nichols — who have now seen the video,” Mr Mulroy said in a statement. Transparency is a priority for the DA’s Office, and we understand the public’s desire for immediate release. However, it’s important that the release does not compromise the investigation. We’re working with the TBI and FBI to expedite that investigation and are consulting regularly with the City of Memphis about the video’s release, which we expect will occur this week or next.”
However, it now appears that the video will be available on Friday. The announcement that the footage was soon to be released came a day before five former Memphis police officers were charged with the second-degree murder of Mr Nichols.