Up to 20 hours of additional footage relating to the deadly Memphis police beating of a 29-year-old Black man has yet to be released, a prosecutor said Wednesday as his office contemplates whether to file more charges in the case.
The unreleased footage surrounding Tyre Nichols’ brutal January 7 traffic stop most notably includes audio of what was said after the beating and after an ambulance takes Nichols to a hospital, Shelby County prosecutor Steven Mulroy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
When that unseen video will be released publicly will be up to the city of Memphis and Memphis police, he said.
Attorney Ben Crump, one of the attorneys for Nichols’ family, told Blitzer on Thursday the family hasn’t seen or heard these additional recordings.
“But we were told by the city attorney that they’re prepared to let us have them as well as the public,” he said. “Obviously transparency is the key. We were under the impression that we got everything (when they viewed the first videos before release), but I pray with this next release, that will be everything, so we can connect all the dots.”
The city last week released body-camera and surveillance footage showing what Mulroy said is “the relevant parts” of the initial stop and the beating at a second location. But the other footage could play a key investigative role.
The released video already has contradicted what officers said happened in the initial police report filed after Nichols’ beating. And potential charges of “false reporting” related to the initial police report are being investigated, Erica Williams, a spokesperson for Mulroy’s office, told CNN Wednesday.
“The incident report that has gone public does not match up on all fours with what one sees when one looks at the video that’s already been released,” Mulroy said Wednesday.
Nichols’ family “takes exception with almost every part of that police report,” Crump said Thursday.
Such comments are an indication that this is the latest example of the arrest of a Black person in which the version of events given by authorities does not match up with video or witness accounts. Other instances – such as the deadly encounters involving George Floyd, Ronald Greene and Walter Scott – have led to charges filed against law enforcement officers.
Last week’s release of video of Nichols being repeatedly punched and kicked by police shook a nation long accustomed to videos of police brutality – especially against people of color – and spurred largely peaceful weekend protests from New York to Los Angeles.
On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris, the Rev. Al Sharpton and families of other Black people killed in police encounters came together for Nichols’ funeral, celebrating his life and making renewed calls for police reform.
“There should be no other child that should suffer the way my son and all the other parents here (who) have lost their children” have, said RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother.
Video contradicted police report
The initial police report filed in Memphis suggested Nichols was violent. It also made no mention of the officers punching and kicking him.
It claimed Nichols “started to fight” with officers and at one point grabbed the gun of one of the detectives, two things not seen in police videos released last week. And even though the videos do not appear to show Nichols fighting back, the report lists Nichols as a suspect in an aggravated assault.
The report also describes one of the officers at the scene – one of five now charged with second degree murder – as a “victim.”
While authorities have not released the police report, a photo of a police report was posted by a controversial Memphis radio talk show host. The police report account was first reported by The New York Times.
So far, five Memphis police officers, all of whom are Black, have been fired and charged with second-degree murder. In addition, two other police officers have been put on leave, the SCORPION unit they were part of was disbanded, three Memphis Fire Department personnel were fired and two sheriff’s deputies were put on leave.
Mulroy has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to expedite its investigation, and all involved in the encounter are being scrutinized as prosecutors consider additional charges, he has said.
Those under scrutiny include personnel who showed up after the beating at the second scene and those who filed paperwork, Mulroy said.
Calls for reform echoed throughout Nichols’ funeral
Nichols’ funeral on Wednesday saw a celebration of the young man’s life, but also a recognition of families of other Black people killed and a united call for federal legislation on law enforcement.
His mother remembered him as “a beautiful person” and echoed others in calling for passage of the George Floyd Policing Act.
Harris also called Nichols’ death a moment that demands congressional police reform.
“As vice president of the United States, we demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Joe Biden will sign it and we should not delay,” Harris said Wednesday.
That legislation twice cleared the House but it never went anywhere in the Senate. If passed, the act would set up a national registry of police misconduct to stop officers from evading consequences by moving to another jurisdiction.
“Why do we want to see the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed? Because then you have to think twice before you beat Tyre Nichols. You think twice before you shoot at someone unarmed,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton called out the five Black former officers charged in Nichols’ death and invoked Martin Luther King Jr., who was killed in Memphis in 1968.
“In the city that Dr. King lost his life … you beat a brother to death,” Sharpton said.
“There’s nothing more insulting and offensive to those of us that fight to open doors, that you walked through those doors and act like the folks we had to fight for to get you through them doors. You didn’t get on the police department by yourself,” Sharpton said. “The police chief didn’t get there by herself. People had to march and go to jail and some lost their lives to open the doors for you and how dare you act like that sacrifice was for nothing.”
Nichols’ family is looking to get justice, not just for them but also for all the families, his stepfather, Rodney Wells, said.
“This is a continuous fight that we have to fight for. We have to fight for justice. We cannot continue to let these people brutalize our kids,” Wells said.
Through tears, Nichols’ mother called the tragedy her family suffered “unimaginable.”
“The only thing that’s keeping me going is the fact that I really, truly believe that my son was sent here on an assignment from God,” she said tearfully at Wednesday’s funeral.
“I guess now his assignment is done and he’s been taken home,” she added.
Nichols’ sister shared memories of him during the service and reflected on his death.
“I see the world showing him love and fighting for his justice, but all I want is my baby brother back,” the sister, Keyana Dixon, said through tears.
CNN’s Jamiel Lynch and Nick Valencia contributed to this report.