“Mom, mom, mom” are the last three words Tire Nichols said
Given the ignominy that occurred in Memphis, the statements of some of Tire Nichols' acquaintances are surprising.
At 29, the latest victim of uniformed brutality in the United States had recently considered becoming a cop. “He was talking about maybe the easiest way to change the system was to become the system,” she explained to The New York Times Angelina Paxton, one of the closest friends of the deceased today, from the time he lived in Sacramento (California) with his father.
His father died when Nichols was still studying at the institute. He went from job to job. He found his escape route in photography, sunsets and skateboarding. He had a son whom he did not see because of the distance.
Because in 2020 he decided to move to Memphis. He wanted to start over and be close to his mother, RowVaughn Wells, and his stepfather, Rodney Wells, who got him a job at FedEx, the courier company where he also works.
On Saturday, January 7, at around 8:30 p.m., the police stopped him as he was driving towards the family home. They were expecting him for dinner. He never came. The mother saw him in a hospital. He was horrified at his distorted face and the tubes he was connected to. He died three days after the encounter with the police. The autopsy determined that death was due to internal damage and blood loss from a beating.
This Friday, the day after the arrest (today released after paying bail) and indictment of five agents (African-Americans like his victim) for murder, kidnapping and more, the four videos illustrating the Nichols tragedy were released.
The United States watched with shock the video of the fatal beating that five police officers inflicted on a driver
There are no images that explain the reason for the stop. Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the officers who stopped him were in a new vehicle that still lacked the camera. She supposedly was driving in the wrong direction, but Davis herself stressed that they have not found evidence that Nichols was driving recklessly.
What is observed is that in that first moment, the driver remains calm, while the police treat him as if he were the most wanted guy in the country. “I haven't done anything,” Nichols said. The others yelled at him to lie down on the asphalt. "I'm already on the ground," he replied. And he added: "I was just trying to go home." In the midst of police hysteria (one pepper-sprayed himself and a colleague) and knowing what could happen, he ran. One chased him with the taser.
Soon they hunted him down. The image in the third video is covered during the beating, but you can hear the blows, the moans and his last words: "Mom, mom, mom." When a police court arrived, without anyone commenting on the bunch that Nichols was reduced to, the image returned and the agents, in a tavern-like manner, tried to justify the infamy. "I would go very well," they remarked. The victim had no weapons or drugs.
The fourth video, from a street camera, is harsh in its cruelty. There is the cruelty with punches, kicks (a policeman limps off due to the applied force) and the beatings. The ambulance took 22 minutes.
“It is another painful reminder of the fear, trauma and exhaustion that black and brown citizens experience on a daily basis,” President Joe Biden stressed after the broadcast.
Memphis dismantles the Scorpion unit, in which the defendants were, for their alleged brutality
Many police officials expressed their dismay at the use of unnecessary force and the complete lack of humanity. In Memphis and many other cities there were protest demonstrations. Still more are expected.
And again there is talk of police reform. But everything remains the same despite the great mobilization after the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Even worse. Instead of lowering the number of deaths at the hands of the uniformed, the data indicates that it has increased.
But Memphis, in the midst of the scandal, announced this Saturday the dismantling of the Scorpion unit of which several of the defendants were a part. This unit, created to operate in high-crime areas, raised suspicions that its members committed all kinds of abuses with impunity.
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