MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The 29-year-old man who died three days after being beaten in a confrontation with Memphis police earlier this month called out for his mother at least three times during the attack, an attorney for his family said.
Tyre Nichols died after being stopped by police a short distance from his home on Jan. 7. Authorities said officers had two “confrontations” with Nichols and that afterward, he complained of shortness of breath, according to WHBQ. He was taken to a hospital, where he later died.
>> To see the unedited video released by the Memphis Police, click here. Warning: The videos are graphic and contain profanity.
Five police officers have since been fired by the department and this week, charged with murder and other alleged crimes in connection with Nichols’ death.
The confrontation between police and Nichols was caught on several cameras, authorities said. Officials plan to release redacted video of the incident on Friday night.
“When you all see this video, you’re going to see Tyre Nichols calling out for his mom,” Ben Crump, an attorney for the Nichols family, said Friday at a news conference. “He calls out three times for his mother. His last words on this Earth is, ‘Mom, mom, mom.’ I mean, he’s screaming for her.”
Family members said officers stopped Nichols three blocks from the home where he lived with his parents on Jan. 7. He was coming home from Shelby Farms Park, where he liked to watch the sunset and take photos. Officers detained Nichols before Tasing, pepper spraying, handcuffing and kicking him, WHBQ reported.
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said Friday that she felt a “bad pain” in her stomach on the night of Jan. 7 which she later realized “was my son’s pain that I was feeling, and I didn’t even know.”
“To find out that my son was calling my name, and I was only (feet) away, did not even hear him – you have no clue how I feel right now,” she said. “No clue.”
Nichols was the youngest of four children and close to his mother. On Monday, Wells said he came to Memphis right before the pandemic “shut the world down” and he ended up staying.
“He was OK with it because you know why? Because he was with his mother,” Wells said. “My son loved me to death, and I know that was a bad word, but that’s how he felt. He had my name tattooed in his arm, and that made me proud because most kids don’t put their mom’s name (on their arm). But he did.”
She said all her son wanted to do was get home.
“It’s just so hard to even fathom all of this because it’s not even real to me right now,” she said. “I don’t have any feelings right now – I don’t know anything right now. All I know is my son Tyre is not here with me anymore. He will never walk through that door again. He will never come in and say, ‘Hello parents!’ because that’s what he would do. He would come in and say, ‘Hello parents.’”
Officials are expected to release video of the encounter between Nichols and police on Friday night. Family members and authorities, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, have urged people to remain peaceful despite the horrific nature of the footage.
Violent protests are “not what Tyre (would have) wanted, and that’s not going to bring him back,” Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, said on Monday.
Authorities on Thursday arrested former police officers Tadarrius Bean, 24; Demetrius Haley, 30; Emmitt Martin III, 30; Desmond Mills, 32; and Justin Smith, 28; with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and other charges.