When asked for comment on the officers’ conduct at the traffic stop, a spokesperson from the Memphis Police Department said: “All information that is available at this point has been released. However, know that this investigation remains ongoing.” The Memphis Police Association also said it could not comment because of the ongoing investigation.
More on the Death of Tyre Nichols
The Times’s analysis is based on footage from police body cams and street cameras released by the City of Memphis and synchronized by The Times.
Here are four key moments in which officers punished Mr. Nichols for not complying with flawed commands. These videos contain scenes of graphic violence.
The footage begins with a police officer driving up to the intersection where Mr. Nichols’s car had been boxed in by two unmarked police vehicles.
The officer jumps out with his firearm drawn and joins a pair of officers rushing toward the front seat.
One officer pulls Mr. Nichols out of his car, and all three officers immediately start screaming “On the ground!”
These are the first orders in the bombardment of confusing commands that confound Mr. Nichols and prompt a cascade of retribution.
Mr. Nichols points out that he is sitting on the ground, as the officers instructed him to do.
But multiple officers shout the same command over and over with intensifying frustration and physical threats.
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“Get on the ground!” one orders. “I’m gonna tase your ass.”
It eventually becomes evident that the officers would like Mr. Nichols not only on the ground but also lying down.
When Mr. Nichols repositions himself, it appears to further antagonize the officers. He tries to convey that he poses no threat.
“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” he says. “I’m just trying to go home.”
With officers pinning down his arms, pressing a taser against his leg and barking intensifying verbal threats, Mr. Nichols explodes: “I am on the ground!”
Finally, one of the officers yells more specific instructions: “On your stomach.”
Three seconds later, one of the officers shoots pepper spray into Mr. Nichols’s face.