Tyre Nichols: Memphis police prepare for unrest as bodycam footage set to be released

In a video statement released Wednesday evening, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis announced body camera footage showing the arrest of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died three days after a traffic stop with police, will be released “in the coming days” and urged the community not to respond with violence and destruction. Davis described the beating that Nichols received during the arrest as "heinous, reckless and inhumane.”

Video Transcript

CERELYN DAVIS: In light of the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols, it is absolutely incumbent upon me, your chief, to address the status of what the Memphis Police Department is doing, has done, and will continue to do in furtherance of finding truth in this tragic loss, ensuring we communicate with honesty and transparency, and that there is absolute accountability for those responsible for Tyre's death.

As you know, five Memphis Police officers were terminated last week. These officers were found to be directly responsible for the physical abuse of Mr. Nichols. Concurrent within that investigation, other MPD officers are still under investigation for department policy violations. Some infractions are less egregious than others.

As this investigation and other external investigations continue, I promise full and complete cooperation from the Memphis Police Department with the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office to determine the entire scope of facts that contributed to Tyre Nichols death. Aside from being your chief of police, I am a citizen of this community we share. I am a mother. I am a caring human being who wants the best for all of us.

This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane. And in the vein of transparency, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves. I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels. I expect you to feel outraged in the disregard of basic human rights, as our police officers have taken an oath to do the opposite of what transpired on the video.

I expect our citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest, to demand action and results. But we need to ensure our community is safe in this process. None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens. In our hurt, in our outrage and frustration, there's still work to be done to build each other up, to continue the momentum of improving our police and community relationships and partnerships, to show those who watch us now that this behavior is not what will define our community and our great city.

This is not a reflection of the good work that many Memphis Police officers do every day. What comes next is our defining moment. What we all do next can be that reflection of our character.

I am not wavering in my commitment to you to have a police force that is here to serve and protect you. Those five officers and others failed our community and they failed the Nichols family. And that is beyond regrettable. I have met with and offered condolences to Tyre's mother and father and have asked for the support of our community leaders and clergy in this extremely difficult moment. But words are only temporary salves that need to be followed by true, responsible action and change.

It is my intent as a proactive measure to ensure that a complete and independent review is conducted on all of the Memphis Police Department's specialized units in the commitment of my executive leadership to ensure that policies and procedures are adhered to in our daily encounters with the citizens we are sworn to serve. In the days ahead, I ask that you continue to pray for the family of Tyre Nichols, the Memphis Police Department, and our great city.