West News Wire: An incident report and a statement from Memphis Police detailing the police traffic stop that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ murder were obtained by ABC News. However, the written statements offer a different narrative from what the body camera footage of the frightening encounter has revealed.
Black guy Nichols, 29, was stopped for a traffic violation and got into a fight with the police, during which he was battered.
The video shows officers hitting Nichols and pepper spraying him as he cries out for his mother, who resided nearby, during the confrontation.
Officers may be seen standing over Nichols while he is on the ground in body camera footage. As two officers hold him down, a third kicks him. A fourth officer comes over with a baton and the officers pick up Nichols from the ground and hold him up while officers appear to strike him in the face and torso.
The officers yell multiple times at Nichols to “give me your hands.” The officer with the baton can be heard saying, “I’ma baton the f— out of you” then appears to strike him on the upper body three times. Officers pull Nichols to a stand, then appear to punch and slap him.
The official incident report does not mention that Nichols was kicked and punched by the officers. It also claims that Nichols started to fight with officers, reached for their guns, pulled on their duty belts and grabbed at least one officer by his vest. This cannot be seen in body camera footage.
Officers can be heard in the aftermath claiming that Nichols reached for their guns.
“Suspect Tyre Nichols was refusing a lawful detention by law enforcement officers and he started to fight with detectives,” the report reads. It says Nichols was “sweating profusely” and “irate” when he exited the vehicle.
The report also claims Nichols “began actively resisting by pulling duty belts and grabbing Officer Smith by the vest.”
It describes the use of chemical agents and the use of the baton to strike Nichols.
The report says the Memphis Police Department officer responded to an “aggravated assault” and that former MPD Officer Martin had observed Nichols’ vehicle “driving recklessly at a high rate of speed” and “into oncoming traffic.”
The initial statement from the Memphis Police Department failed to mention the details of the physical altercations.
It’s not the only example in recent years of police reports or statements not aligning with details seen in body camera footage or other evidence.
The Minneapolis Police Department also has been criticized over its initial statement detailing the murder of George Floyd by then-MPD Police Officer Derek Chauvin.