Victims of police brutality do not need to be angels, saints, or perfect to deserve justice, but according to those who knew Tyre Nichols, he was as close as it gets.
That didn’t matter to the bloodthirsty boys in blue when five former Memphis police officers savagely beat Nichols to death. CNN reports Nichols’s loved ones remember him as a kind, creative soul as the U.S. erupts in outrage over video of the horrific police brutality.
Last week, BOSSIP reported the termination of five police officers who attacked Nichols. Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis identified the former officers as Taddarius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr.
This week the killer cops were arrested and charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression. Swift consequences tempered anger at nationwide protests, but this is still far from justice.
Tyre Nichols was a loving, creative family man before former Memphis cops ended his life
The youngest of four by 12 years, Nichols was the baby of the family. He was a dedicated family man close to his mother and worked alongside his stepfather at FedEx. The Sacramento native got stuck in Memphis during the pandemic but embraced the opportunity to spend time with his parents.
“He was OK with it because he loved his mother,” RowVaughn Wells said about her son Tyre. “He had my name tattooed on his arm, and that made me proud because most kids don’t put their mom’s name, but he did.”
“My son was a beautiful soul and he touched everyone,” she said.
With such a tight relationship, it’s no surprise Tyre cried out for his mother during the beating less than 100 yards away from the family home. Like Mamie Till-Mobley, Wells reflected on finding the strength to keep going to ensure her son’s life and lynching serve a higher purpose.
“Nobody’s perfect, nobody. But he was damn near. He was damn near perfect,” RowVaughn Wellssaid about her son Tyre after viewing footage of the beating on Monday.
“He was a good person. All the good in Tyre will come out and so that’s what keeps me going because I just feel like my son was sent here on assignment,” she said.
On a winter weekend like this, the 29-year-old should be at the park playing with his son or capturing the beauty of nature. The aspiring photographer was passionate about catching the sunset every night before coming home to his mother’s cooking.
“My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what i am seeing through my eye and out through my lens. People have a story to tell why not capture it instead of doing the ‘norm’ and writing it down or speaking it,” Tyre wrote on his photography website.
“I hope to one day let people see what i see and to hopefully admire my work based on the quality and ideals of my work,” he continued.
Nichols was also passionate about skateboarding since he was slightly older than his 4-year-old son. While the nation braced for releasing footage from the beating, a montage of Nichols skateboarding went viral.
Mass protests erput in the wake of footage from former Memphis PD cops beating Tyre Nichols to death
On Friday night, after another week of painstaking anticipation, officials released bodycam and surveillance footage from Memphis PD’s fatal attack. Initial comparisons to the infamous Rodney King video don’t do justice because this case is much worse.
Organizers already planned protests in Memphis and major cities like New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Portland, Oregon, and Providence, Rhode Island.
The Memphis Black Lives Matter chapter held a vigil for Nichols on Thursday at Tobey Skatepark.
Local leaders used the week-long delay of the video to prepare the cities for mass demonstrations and urge protestors to remain peaceful. Although Nichols’ mother said he wouldn’t want destruction in his name, police officers are the ones who need those warnings.
In Atlanta, the streets were already filled with protestors for another police killing. On Jan. 18, a Georgia State Patrol trooper fatally shot social justice activist Tortuguita. The 26-year-old was protesting the destruction of the South River Forest to build “Cop City,” a massive “mock city” police training compound.
Tyre Nichols’s death at the hands of Memphis PD’s elite task force proves the last thing cops need is more expensive resources. The newly created SCORPION (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) unit didn’t keep Memphis safe. No amount of reforms for training, bodycams, Black cops, or even a Black woman police chief changed the sadistic nature of these modern-day slave catchers.