A Memphis police report after officers beat Tyre Nichols was starkly at odds with what videos later showed, making no mention of the powerful kicks and punches unleashed on Nichols and instead claiming that he was violent. The report painted Nichols, 29, who died three days after the Jan. 7 beating, as an irate suspect who had “started to fight” with police officers, even reaching for one of their guns. The videos showed nothing of the sort, the New York Times reports. Instead, they captured police officers yanking Nichols from a car, threatening to hurt him and then — after he ran away — catching up with him and starting the deadly beating. It appears from the videos that Nichols never struck back.
On Monday, the police department announced that it had suspended two more officers, in addition to the five who have already been fired. The city’s fire chief, Gina Sweat, fired two emergency medical technicians and a lieutenant who had responded to the scene, saying that they all had violated policies. The fire chief said the E.M.T.s had been responding to a report of a person who had been pepper sprayed and that they had relied on information given at the scene, presumably by some of the officers who had just kicked, punched and used a baton to pummel Nichols, a FedEx worker who had pleaded with the officers to stop. The official account by a police officer told a much different story in which Nichols was the assailant. It was the latest instance in which video evidence offered a starkly different account of police violence from what officers had reported themselves. In Minneapolis in 2020, police said George Floyd had died of a “medical incident,” a description challenged by a teenager’s cellphone video, leading to international protests and charges against four officers.