The American city of Memphis was preparing for demonstrations on Friday in response to the publication, scheduled for the end of the day, of a video showing the brutal arrest by five police officers of an African-American, who died three days after this violent beating.
• Read also: Five police officers charged with murder after the brutal arrest of an African American
“When my husband and I arrived at the hospital and saw my son, he was already dead. They had reduced him to mush. He had bruises everywhere, his head was swollen like a watermelon,” said RowVaughn Wells, Tyre Nichols’ mother, in tears in an interview broadcast Friday by CNN.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis has warned that the video showing the arrest of the 29-year-old man was “comparable, if not worse” to that showing the violent police arrest of Rodney King in 1991.
The acquittal, a year later, of the four police officers involved, triggered unprecedented riots in Los Angeles.
“We plan to share the video via a YouTube link so that it is accessible to everyone. It will be done in the late afternoon,” Ms. Davis told CNN, adding that the footage illustrated a “sort of group effect” among the five officers, who are themselves African American.
“The video is divided into four different sequences (…) the initial (road) control, the one near Tire’s house and the portable camera of several people on the spot,” she said.
On January 7, police wanted to check Tire Nichols for a traffic violation. A “confrontation had taken place” with the agents and “the suspect had fled”, according to the police.
Caught up, Tire Nichols had been arrested in circumstances that the authorities have so far avoided describing precisely. The precise course of the events and their duration remain sources of questions, as does the time elapsed before the victim receives medical treatment.
Complaining of having difficulty breathing, hospitalized, Tire Nichols died three days later.
The five police officers were charged with murder and imprisoned. Four of them were later released on bail.
US President Joe Biden called in a statement for a “prompt, complete and transparent investigation” into this tragedy and called for the demonstrations to be “peaceful”.
The case finds a particular echo in a country still marked by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, in May 2020, and the demonstrations against racism and police violence, which had followed, federated around the slogan “Black Lives Matter” (Black Lives Matter).
And the drama has reignited the debate on police violence in the country.
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