Tyre Nichols’ mother says she’s ‘not going to stop’ until those responsible for her son’s death face justice
The mother of Tyre Nichols has said she is “not going to stop” until every person responsible for her son’s death “is prosecuted to the fullest of law”.
RowVaughn Wells was speaking to US news network MSNBC a day after Memphis Police released bodycam footage showing her son screaming “mom, mom” several times as he was attacked by officers.
Ms Wells said: “I believe in my heart that my son was on assignment from God. He finished his assignment and God took him back home.
“Even though this tragedy happened to my son, I truly believe that there is going to be a greater good that comes out of this.
“And that is what keeps me going to get this justice for my son, because I’m not going to stop until every person that had anything to do with my son’s death is prosecuted to the fullest of the law.”
Warning: This article contains violent images
Ms Wells went on to say that the officers she believes killed her son had “shamed their own families” and continued: “You shame your communities. You just brought a bad taste to everybody’s mouth.
“I hate the fact that it was five black men that actually did this to another black man. My son probably was their age.
“They just brought disgrace to themselves. I’m not an evil person, my son is not an evil person…. I pray for (the officers’) families, because their families didn’t deserve any of this either.”
Ms Wells and Mr Nichols’ stepfather also repeated their call for people to protest in a non-violent way.
Mr Nichol’s mother earlier said in the same interview: “Tyre was a beautiful person, he was full of life, as you can see he loved to skateboard, he loved to watch the sunsets. He was a great dad.
“He was just a good person. There’s no perfect person in this world, but he was close to it.”
Ms Wells has spoken after Memphis Police announced the SCORPION (Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace in Our Neighbourhoods) unit, that the five officers charged with murder over the father-of-one’s death were members of, has been “permanently deactivated”.
Memphis Police said in a statement: “In the process of listening intently to the family of Tyre Nichols, community leaders, and the uninvolved officers who have done quality work in their assignments, it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION unit.
“The officers currently assigned to the unit agree unreservedly with this next step.
“While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonour on the title SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department take proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted.”
The move comes after Memphis Police released bodycam footage showing Mr Nichols screaming for his mother while being beaten by officers.
The footage shows police attacked the 29-year-old for three minutes while shouting profanities at him.
Mr Nichols was 80 yards (73 metres) from his family home, according to his mother.
Police have released four separate videos cut into one hour-long clip, including police bodycam footage and footage from a CCTV camera.
Five officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes, including assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression over Mr Nichols’ death.
In the footage of the attack, one camera shows the initial police stop at an intersection in Memphis, Tennessee.
“I’m going to baton the f*** out of you,” one officer can be heard saying. His body camera shows him raise his baton while at least one other officer holds Mr Nichols.
After the first officer roughly pulls Mr Nichols out of his car just after 8:20pm on 7 January this year, the FedEx worker can be heard saying “I didn’t do anything” as a group of officers begins to wrestle him to the ground.
“Get on the ground!,” one officer yells, as another is heard shouting: “Tase him! Tase him!”
The father-of-one calmly replied soon after being wrestled to the pavement: “OK, I’m on the ground.”
Moments later, as the officers continue to shout, Mr Nichols says: “Man, I am on the ground.”
An officer yells: “Put your hands behind your back before I break your (expletive).”
Moments later an officer shouts: “Put your hands behind your back before I break them.”
“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Mr Nichols says loudly to the officers. “I’m just trying to go home.”
“Stop, I’m not doing anything,” he yells moments later.
The camera is briefly obscured and then Mr Nichols can be seen running as an officer fires a Taser at him. The officers then start chasing Mr Nichols.
He is then punched, kicked and hit with a baton. After the beating, officers mill about for several minutes while Mr Nichols lies propped up against the car, then slumps onto the street.
Emergency workers with what looks like medical equipment attend, but do not immediately intervene.
He died on 10 January, three days after the violent arrest.
The officers involved have been dismissed by Memphis Police Department’s Chief of Police, Cerelyn Davis.
Ms Davis, who became the force’s first black female boss in 2021, previously called for “sweeping changes and police reform” in the aftermath of the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Meanwhile, influential civil rights campaigner Al Sharpton said the US has a “new clock” on police accountability following the quick arrest and firing of five officers charged over the death of Mr Nichols.
Speaking at a rally in Harlem, New York, Reverend Sharpton also rejected the idea that there was no race element to the fatal beating of Mr Nichols by the officers just because they themselves are black.
Making a speech at a weekly National Action Network rally, he said: “So there’s a new precedent set now ‘cos this black women police chief messed you up now – ‘cos she said I’m not waiting on nothing – arrest them, fire them.
“You now got a new clock on police accountability. We don’t want to hear no year investigation.”
Addressing the involvement of race, he said: “One person said to me well at least it ain’t about race.
“I said the race part of it is those black guys thought they could get away with doing it to a black guy.
“You know you couldn’t get away with doing that in Tennessee to a white guy – and you won’t get away with doing it to a black guy either.”
Meanwhile, at a news conference of city leaders held on Saturday, state representative Joe Towns Jr, echoed the comments of Reverend Sharpton on the force’s prompt investigation.
He also said police chief Ms Davis had his full support, praising her for taking “swift action”.
The comments came as a memorial fund set up in the aftermath of Mr Nichols topped $535,000 (£433,000).
The GoFundMe page, set up by Mr Nichols’ mother, is aimed at helping to pay for a memorial skate park in his honour, as well as to allow his family time off from their jobs to grieve and seek justice.
Protests are taking place in at least nine cities across the US – including Memphis – after the bodycam footage was released.
Mr Nichols’ mother had earlier warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but pleaded for peace saying “tearing up the streets” is “not what my son stood for”.
US President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death”.
“It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that black and brown Americans experience every single day,” he added.
Couple ‘likely dead’ after yacht hijacked by escaped convicts
An American couple who disappeared a week ago after their catamaran was hijacked by three escaped convicts are likely dead, police have said.
Police Commissioner Don McKenzie said the prisoners had escaped custody on the Caribbean island of Grenada on the 18 February and the following day commandeered a catamaran named Simplicity – with Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry on board.
“Information suggests that while travelling between Grenada and St Vincent, they disposed of the occupants,” Commissioner McKenzie said.
The couple was last seen on the night the prisoners escaped and their boat was later tracked leaving the Grenada late at night at an unusual speed.
Police in St Vincent and the Grenadines captured the three fugitives on Wednesday, he said, adding that a team from Grenada had been dispatched to collaborate on “having a complete and thorough investigation of the matters at hand”.
The island nations are separated by about 85 nautical miles.
Ron Mitchell, 30, Trevon Robertson, 19, and 25-year-old Abita Stanislaus were being held at the South Saint George Police Station near Grenada’s southwestern tip on charges of robbery with violence, when they escaped.
Mitchell also faces counts of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault.
Police from St Vincent said in a statement they had discovered the ship with no bodies but items strewn across the deck and possible blood on board.
On Monday the suspects appeared in court in St Vincent on four immigration counts, to which they pleaded guilty, and they had been remanded into custody with sentencing set for 4 March.
St Vincent Police Superintendent Junior Simmons said that though the couple are presumed dead, “the investigation and search for the missing persons continues.”
Taylor Swift’s dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show
An Australian photographer claims he was punched by Taylor Swift’s dad in Sydney following the singer’s concert.
Ben McDonald said he told police the incident happened at Neutral Bay Wharf, where Swift and her dad had just come ashore from a yacht hours after the singer’s final show in the city.
While officers did not release names, police said they are investigating an alleged assault by a 71-year-old man on a 51-year-old man at 2.30am local time.
Swift’s representatives have not responded to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told Rolling Stone magazine two people were “aggressively pushing” to get to Swift.
They added that the people grabbed security and threatened a member of the singer’s staff.
Mr McDonald said media had been waiting to picture the star as she walked towards two cars.
“There were about four or five security there and at one point, one of the American security started shoving his umbrella into me and my camera and then Taylor got in her car,” he said.
“Someone else came running at me and punched me in the left side of my face.
“Initially, I thought it was an Australian security that was trying to be the hero of the moment in the front of the Americans, but as it turned out it was her father.”
Mr McDonald said he recognised Swift’s father, Scott Swift, from a picture online – adding that he doesn’t have any bruising and didn’t need any treatment.
“In 23 years, I haven’t been assaulted and punched in the chops, particularly by the talent’s dad,” he said.
“We didn’t go rushing down the jetty. We didn’t go rushing to the back of the boat. We waited for her to come up. Kept it very civil.
“But no, they… put the umbrellas up and umbrellas over her and then shove the umbrellas into our faces and then make out that we’re the ones making contact with them.”
Swift left the country on Tuesday after more than 600,000 fans saw her Eras Tour performance across seven concerts.
Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed ‘by end of the weekend’
Joe Biden has said he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas can be secured by the weekend.
The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, next door to 30 Rock in New York, on Monday.
Flanked by late night TV show host Seth Meyers, Mr Biden was asked by reporters on when a ceasefire in Gaza could start.
In a surprise turn, he said that he hopes it will take place “by the end of the weekend”.
“My national security advisor (Jake Sullivan) tells me that we’re close, we’re close, we’re not done yet,” he said. “My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”
Mr Biden’s comments come as Israel prepares to start a military operation in Rafah – which he has warned against without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.
Israel has said it will go ahead with an offensive on the city if hostages are not returned by 10 March, which is when Ramadan starts.
According to NBC News, Sky news’ US partner network, Qatar is mediating talks between Israel and Hamas this week, and ceasefire negotiations have taken place between US, Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris.
Should it happen, it would be the second ceasefire following one in November which saw several hundred Palestinians released from Israeli jails and about 100 hostages freed by Hamas.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said earlier on Monday that the Israeli Defence Force proposed a plan for the evacuation of civilians from “fighting areas” to the country’s war cabinet.
This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.
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