Family of slain Black man Tyre Nichols bring fight for justice from Memphis to NYC
Published in News & Features
NEW YORK — The devastated parents of the Black man killed in a caught-on-video beating by Memphis, Tennessee, police officers recounted the horrors of his death Saturday during a Harlem visit where they once more demanded justice for their slain son.
“This has been a very difficult time for our family,” said RowVaughn Wells, the mother of slain 29-year-old Tyre Nichols. “I’m still trying to process all of this and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve had my good days, I have my bad days. But the only thing that keeps me going is all the prayers I’ve been receiving.”
The victim’s brokenhearted dad Rodney Wells recalled the gruesome sight of his son’s battered corpse after the fatal Jan. 7 attack on the 6-foot-3, 140-pound victim in a supposed traffic stop turned homicide.
“Not only was his eye swollen shut, his neck was broke,” said Wells. “He had abrasions on his wrist so deep it seemed like they cut him. His head was like the size of a watermelon. And you’re just going to tell me he was pepper-sprayed and tased?”
The family appeared with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy for Nichols at his funeral, at the House of Justice in Harlem.
Videos from police body cameras and street surveillance cameras captured the savage attack on Nichols, who was heard screaming for his mother during the relentless beating by the officers. The victim died three days later, with the airing of the videos shocking the nation and sparking protests across the country and in New York City.
“You say my son was doing reckless driving and this is the reason you pulled him over — with no evidence, no camera footage, no car cams,” said Wells. “That shield doesn’t empower you to go out and commit murder. Through all of this, we will get justice for Tyre.”
Seven Memphis police officers were fired and five charged with second-degree murder following the horrifying attack where they ignored the helpless victim’s screams for his mother while repeatedly assaulting Nichols with their fists, their shoes and their batons.
The dad expressed his outrage at the recent retirement of Memphis police lieutenant who stepped down before he could become the eighth cop fired from the force and lose his pension and other benefits.
“Thinking he will be able to escape the consequences of his actions — we aren’t going to let that happen,” said Wells. “The community is not going to let that happen.”
Family attorney Benjamin Crump said the images of that night illustrated exactly what happened to the innocent Nichols for the world to witness.
“Tyre never posed a threat to them,” said Crump. “He was always just saying ‘What did I do?’ and he never got an answer. I believe the truth is going to come out ... there was no reason for them to stop Tyre Nichols.”
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