Authorities in Tennessee are preparing for the release of police officer body cam footage of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died three days after a traffic stop on Jan. 7.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis gave an address Wednesday evening and called Nichols’ death “heinous, reckless and inhumane,” cautioning people not to react violently after seeing the footage.
“This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity towards another individual,” Davis said, saying the five officers and others who were involved in his death “failed our community, and they failed the Nichols family. That is beyond regrettable.”
“In the vein of transparency, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves,” she added. “I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels. I expect you to feel outraged by the disregard for basic human rights as our police officers have taken an oath to do the opposite of what transpired on the video.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump also reviewed the body camera footage with Nichols’ family and similarly described it as “appalling” and “heinous.”
“It is appalling. It is deplorable. It is heinous. It is violent,” Crump said Monday.
The police chief also acknowledged the video’s contents will likely provoke people to take action, but discouraged them from acting violently.
“I expect our citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest, to demand action and results. But,” she continued, “we need to ensure our community is safe in this process.”
“None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens,” Davis said.
Davis also said the investigation and release of the body cam footage are among the first steps for the police to regain its community standing, and called for “true responsible action and change.”
“In our hurt and our outrage and our frustration, there is still work that needs to be done to build each other up to continue the momentum in improving our police and community relationships and partnerships,” she said.
Davis added: “To show those who watch us now that this behavior is not what will define our community and this great city. This is not a reflection of the good work that many Memphis police officers do every day. What comes next is our defining moment. What we all do next can be that reflection of our character.”
“I am not wavering in my commitment to you to have a police force that is here to serve and protect you,” she also said. “I have met with and offered condolences to Tyre’s mother and father and have asked for the support of our community leaders and our clergy in this extremely difficult moment.”
She added, “It is my intent as a proactive measure that a complete and independent review on all of the Memphis Police Department’s specialized units and to ensure policies, and procedures are adhered to in the daily encounters with the citizens we are sworn to serve.”
In her remarks, Davis said she was not only speaking as a chief of police but “a citizen of this community that we share,” “a mother” and “a caring human being who wants the best for all of us.”
Nichols was pulled over on Jan. 7 around 8:30 p.m. for “reckless driving” near Raines Road and Ross Road in Memphis.
A “confrontation occurred” during the stop, which resulted in police chasing Nichols on foot, police said. He was later apprehended.
“While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended,” MPD said. “Afterward the suspect complained of having shortness of breath, at which point an ambulance was called to the scene.”
He was transported in critical condition to St. Francis Hospital, where he died three days later.
The five Memphis police officers who were involved in the death have been identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. They were subsequently fired.
Chief Davis said other MPD officers are still under investigation for “department policy violations.”
She added, “Some infractions are less egregious than others.”
Two personnel from the Memphis Fire Department have also been fired, and an internal investigation has been launched.
“Last week, two MFD personnel involved in the initial patient care of Tyre Nichols were relieved of duty while an internal investigation is being conducted,” the Tennessee city’s fire department told Fox News on Tuesday.
Fox News’ Greg Norman and Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.