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April 13, 2017
The release by the Memphis Police Department of the brutal traffic stop beating of Tyre Nichols has already sent shockwaves around the nation and elicited horrified reactions from President Joe Biden and legal experts.
On Friday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," analyst Van Jones broke down what made the footage so stunning.
"Van, I want to emphasize again," said Cooper. "We are not replaying it ... this is still happening. Nothing has happened. The beating is now more than 12 or more minutes ago and he's just still lying on the ground."
"Brutal, inhumane, unacceptable, unjustifiable," said Jones. "I mean, he's just now getting attention. A dog being beaten would have been helped by somebody at this point. Also, you know, talk about the images. The voices are so telling. Tyre's voice, the first time you hear him, he's calm, he's trying to calm the police down. He's saying, all right, all right, all right. He goes from a voice of reason and calm. They are so brutal toward him that he runs. The next time you hear him, went from calm to panicked. Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma! Screaming for his mother. He's a hundred yards from his house, hoping that somebody can help him. And then he goes from a voice of calm to panic to agony, completely incoherent. Unable to form a word."
What the video shows, Jones said, is a "deterioration of a human being."
"And then the cops' voices, profane, 'I hope they stomp his ass,' unbelievable level of viciousness," continued Jones. "And the only sympathy is for themselves. Because they're so busy pepper-spraying him, they're pepper-spraying each other. Look at the reaction of the police to the pepper spray. They can't stand the burning, the sensation. They need help from each other, and yet it's continuing for someone else and no aid to someone else who got the full force of the pepper spray."
"So even if you didn't see these images, just the voice of Tyre, you can tell that he was — the only calm person at the beginning. At the end, he can't even form a word," added Jones. "This is disgusting, it's despicable, it's inhumane, it is shocking. It's as bad as people said, but even if you can't see it, you could hear the inhumanity here."
Van Jones reacts to Tyre Nichols beating footage www.youtube.com
"Like so many, I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death," said Biden in the statement. "It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day."
"My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’ family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss," the president continued. "The footage that was released this evening will leave people justifiably outraged. Those who seek justice should not to resort to violence or destruction. Violence is never acceptable; it is illegal and destructive. I join Mr. Nichols’ family in calling for peaceful protest."
"I spoke with RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, Mr. Nichols’ mother and stepfather, this afternoon," Biden continued. "There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a beloved child and young father. Nothing can bring Mr. Nichols back to his family and the Memphis community. But Mr. and Mrs. Wells, Mr. Nichols’ son, and his whole family deserve a swift, full, and transparent investigation."
"We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all," said Biden. "Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. That is why I called on Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to my desk. When Senate Republicans blocked that bill, I signed an executive order that mandated stricter use of force standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local level."
The five officers who carried out the beating have been fired and charged with second-degree murder. The paramedics who failed to administer proper medical attention are also under heavy professional scrutiny.
On Friday evening, the Memphis Police Department released body camera footage showing four since-fired officers brutally beating Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop. Nichols died later as a result of his injuries, and the officers behind the beating, who worked for the so-called SCORPION unit, have now been charged with murder.
Legal experts on Twitter were quick to react with horror on the video, which was split into four parts and did not include footage of the original traffic stop, but showed the officers beating Nichols multiple times as he screamed in pain and also showed paramedics failing to render proper aid when they arrived on the scene.
"A depraved indifference toward human life," said Georgia State Law professor Anthony Michael Kreis. "Nothing short of an extra-judicial execution."
Wheaton political science professor Miranda Yaver agreed, writing, "The first major news story that I remember following on TV was the beating of Rodney King. It’s infuriating how little has changed since then."
Former federal prosecutor Harry Litman walked through some of the most significant parts.
"Nichols does nothing to resist arrest while the officers kick and punch Nichols and beat him with a baton. He falls and stands up and gets pummeled by 5 blows," wrote Litman. "Video 3 is maybe the worst Officers taser him, threaten to do it again. Nichols screams out "Mom" repeatedly Officers f-bomb him repeatedly Officers breathless from beating him ... They actually stand him up to beat him again and worse."
Meanwhile, civil rights attorney Andrew Laufer retweeted the statement, "I won’t be sharing the video or viewing it. I will say it’s long past time to end qualified immunity [for police officers] across the board."