‘Where was the humanity?’ asks mother of killed Memphis man
Memphis police beat Tyre Nichols so badly his head was swollen “like a watermelon” and his neck was broken, Nichols mother said Friday as the city girded for possible violence over the man’s death.
RowVaughn Wells told CNN in an interview that she knew her son was dead when she and her husband rushed to the hospital after he was beaten by five police officers during a traffic stop on January 7.
“When my husband and I got to the hospital and I saw my son, he was already gone. They had beat him to a pulp, he had bruises all over him,” Wells said through tears.
“His head was swollen like a watermelon. His neck was bursting because of the swelling. They broke his neck,” she said.
“Where was the humanity? They beat my son like a pinata,” she said referring to a container that children at parties hit to release candy.
“They beat my son to death.”
Nichols, 29 and Black, was stopped for what the Memphis Police Department said was reckless driving.
After a chase ensued, “police brutalized him to the point of being unrecognizable,” family attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a statement.
Nichols died of the injuries three days later.
The case raised fears of violence across the country amid simmering anger over police mistreatment of African-Americans.
On Thursday president Joe Biden urged any protests to be “peaceful,” mindful of the violence that spilled through US cities in 2020 after a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota was filmed killing African-American George Floyd by pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes.
That officer has since been imprisoned on a murder conviction.
In the Memphis case, though, the five police officers who were fired and have been charged with murder themselves were all Black.
Sitting on a sofa with her husband, Nichol’s step father, and Crump, a prominent civil rights attorney, Wells said she has not seen the video of the incident that is expected to be released by police late Friday, but said she understands it is “horrific.”
Earlier in the week she said her son did not do drugs or carry guns, and that the police stop was close to their home.
She told CNN her son, while tall, only weighed 150 pounds (68 kilograms) and questioned why five heavier officers needed to beat him.
She said she agreed with the officers being charged with second-degree murder rather than the harsher first-degree murder.
“The charges that were filed against those officers are good charges. Those are the charges that I feel will stick.”
“They have brought shame to their own families. They brought shame to the black community,” she said.