People attend a candlelight vigil in memory of Tyre Nichols

People attend a candlelight vigil in memory of Tyre Nichols at the Tobey Skate Park on January 26, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

'Acts That Defy Humanity': Nation Braces for Video of Fatal Police Beating of Tyre Nichols

Officials in several cities on Friday were expecting large-scale protests to break out over Nichols' killing.

Social justice advocates on Friday registered the Memphis police chief's response to footage of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by five officers as evidence that the video "must be awful," as Chief Cerelyn Davis said the soon-to-be-released footage shows "acts that defy humanity."

"You're going to see a disregard for life, duty of care that we're all sworn to, and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement," David toldCNN.

The footage is expected to be released Friday. Officials in a number of cities including Memphis, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, and Minneapolis have all said they are preparing for large-scale protests.

"Just the disregard for humanity... That's what really pulls at your heartstrings and makes you wonder: Why was a sense of care and concern for this individual just absent from the situation by all who went to the scene?" Davis toldCNN.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland also called the footage "deeply disturbing," and President Joe Biden acknowledged that nationwide protests may break out over Nichols' killing, demanding "accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths" and joining Nichols' family in "calling for peaceful protest."

"I called on Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to my desk," said Biden on Thursday. "When they didn't, I signed an executive order that included stricter use of force standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local level. Today, we all must re-commit ourselves to the critical work that must be done to advance meaningful reforms."

Nichols died on January 10 from cardiac arrest and kidney failure, three days after he was pulled over by Memphis officers—allegedly for reckless driving—although Davis said her department has been "unable to substantiate that at this time."

The 29-year-old had two violent "confrontations" with the officers, according to the Memphis Police Department, before being rushed to a hospital in critical condition.

The five officers were fired from the department after the attack and on Thursday were charged with crimes including second-degree murder.

Antonio Romanucci, an attorney representing Nichols' family, called on the nation's police unions to condemn the killing.

"Where does the Fraternal Order of Police stand on this?" he asked at a press conference. "We have not heard from you... We want to hear you say that what happened to Tyre, what happened to this family, should never, ever happen again."

FBI Director Christopher Wray announced the bureau will open a civil rights investigation into the killing.

"I've seen the video myself," said Wray. "I'm struggling to find a stronger word, but I will tell you that I was appalled."

Grassroots organizer Bree Newsome Bass expressed disgust over the latest police killing and the drawn-out lead-up to the video being made public.

"The way they've spent days and hours emphasizing the violence of Tyre Nichols' murder like it's a countdown to a movie release tells you everything about the depravity of the system we live under," said Newsome Bass.

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