Police cam footage shows terrible beating of aspiring photographer


The Memphis Police Department has recently released body camera footage that shows how its own officers brutally beat an aspiring photographer to death.

Photographers often take all kinds of risks during the course of their work, and often from police for many different reasons.

However, this usually applies to documentary photographers and photojournalists filming things that directly confront authority figures. Being the victim of police rarely applies to hobby photographers going about a regular night’s activities. 

The Memphis, Tennessee Police Department recently demonstrated the kinds of lines its own officers grossly grossed when it released body cam footage for their acts against an aspiring hobby photographer that they stopped one night. The video was broken down into four harrowing segments.


In the footage, five officers of the Memphis PD are shown severely beating aspiring photographer Tyre Nichols for several minutes. The 29-year-old man was later hospitalized due to his injuries but passed away three days later despite treatment.

This incident took place in early January but has since caused a major stir among many, even inside the Memphis PD itself. The department’s own director, Cerelyn Davis characterized what her organization’s officers did as “Heinous, reckless and inhumane”.

Reporting by the Associated Press featured comments by Nichols’s family attorney, Antonio Romanucci stating that the five officers willfully cooperated together “to inflict harm, terrorism, oppression of liberty, oppression of constitutional rights, which led to murder.”

police brutality victim Tyre Nichols

Tyre Nichols

The attack, which occurred on the night of January 7th, 2023, is hard to describe as anything but entirely brutal and unprovoked.

Nichols, a 29-year-old African-American male, was driving home and just two minutes away from his address when pulled over by several police officers of the Memphis PD.

The officers charged with severely beating and killing Nichols

The officers then hauled Nichols from his car for alleged “reckless driving” to protests by the young man in which he’s heard saying “I didn’t do anything”.

Moments later during this first part of the encounter, one officer starts yelling, “Tase him! Tase him!”

Nichols calmly responds by saying, “OK, I’m on the ground.” He follows this up with “You guys are really doing a lot right now,” and asserts, “I’m just trying to go home.” As their aggression persists, he repeats “Stop, I’m not doing anything,” 

During this, the police officers did indeed use a taser and pepper spray against him.

Nichols, likely deeply terrified at this point, then managed to break free and tried to run away.

At least two of the officers pursued him and eventually caught up to Nichols roughly half a mile away, yelling more threats of extreme violence such as “I’m going to baton the f— out you,” while attacking him. 

At the second location, footage from a nearby pole-mounted surveillance camera shows how the officers slammed Nichols with blows at least nine times without any visible provocation.

They also push him to the ground and after handcuffing him, beat and kick Nichols for the next several minutes while repeatedly slamming the young man with a baton.

Tyre Nichols is never seen fighting back during the beatings and called out for his mother in the midst of his terror. By 8:37 pm, roughly 13 minutes after having first been stopped, Nichols was unresponsive.

police beating Tyre Nichols

The police on site didn’t bother to render any medical assistance. Instead, an ambulance arrived almost 30 minutes later and took him to the hospital, where Nichols complained about shortness of breath after being admitted at 9:18 pm.

Despite receiving medical treatment in the hospital for the next three days, he then died from severe blunt force injuries and bleeding caused by the police beating.

The now-arrested police officers claimed that Tyre Nichols had threatened them and tried to go for their weapons after being stopped. Both police and media analysts have asserted that none of the entire incident’s body or pole cam footage backs any of these claims up.

Based on all visible evidence, he was simply stopped, immediately attacked, and later essentially beaten to the point of eventually dying from his injuries. The officers did all of this for no visibly justified reason, and without even first normally questioning him in any way.

Tyre Nichols wasn’t in the middle of his photographic hobby work when the police attacked him. For the young man, photography was a hobby that he practiced frequently when not busy with other responsibilities, or his regular job as a FedEx driver.

On the weekends and whenever he had a chance, the aspiring photographer would often take his camera out to local parks and streets to capture unique shots of his home city’s landscape. These often featured some fairly lovely sunset shots.


According to Nichols’s own words on his website, “Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way. It expresses me in ways I cannot write down for people,”

In another place, he also explains, “My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what I am seeing through my eye and out through my lens,” He adds, “People have a story to tell, why not capture it.”

Nichol’s loved all kinds of photography, but his favorite shots were landscape compositions, as he describes, “I take different types of photography, anywhere from action sports to rural photos, to bodies of water, and my favorite… landscape photography,”


All of these aspirations were cut short by an extremely brutal attack out of the blue one night, by the very people who are supposed to prevent such things.

Fortunately, some of Nichols’s photographic work is still up and visible on his Instagram page, where it can be appreciated despite the tragedy that befell him on that fateful January 7th evening.

Cameras were what also helped exonerate Nichols of any wrongdoing against the claims of the officers who took his life so quickly.

The officers in question were arrested on January 24th and have been formally charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression.

As of this past Friday, all of them were however released on bail while they await further court proceedings.

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  1. Robin DiNuova on February 2, 2023 at 9:40 pm

    Dear Stephan Jukic,
    Thanks for writing wry true & pertinent words & perspectives on the life & senseless death of Tyre Nichols. I too am blown away by the impact of his very own words, thoughts & his gentle self expression as he reaches out to the world while explaining eloquently his passion for photography. His words regarding photography will haunt & touch me forever as they absolutely are juxtaposed to the photography, videography of his brutal, senseless, unprovoked fatal beating. Compounded by the utter negligent lack of medical care or any humane care by anyone on scene whatsoever!
    Yes, Through The LENS !!! He says it on his website: he’s describing beauty, magic, life, emotions, feelings & thoughts as the rewards of his hobby. Hoping & striving for those shared connections with others through the artfulness of the craft is why he loved photography. He said photography is capable of evoking a deeper shared connection to others & telling a story. Deeper than words can explain.
    Now sadly Through The Lens we see gentle, innocence oppressed & assaulted continuously without mercy. The sheer panic & shock from the level of hostility & brutality must have been immense. I read approximately 79 shouted commands were constantly screamed at him in a few short minutes before he was cuffed. No human under stress can easily respond to 79 commands in a short time, even if they had been kind men, not screaming & physically throwing you around and beating you. Not to mention the pain! Early on likely he had a concussion ( after one kick to his head or neck I saw he never had movement & mobility much at all after that big kick. His mom said his neck was broken & that’s the moment I fear in the video).
    Listen you’re the first person I found who wrote How The Lens is ALSO Exonerating Tyre and it’s sooo true!!! His story is tragic for anyone but his story is way more impactful when you can look deeper & try to know him. He was a great young man & not at all what I think the police thought he was. IF they’d known what we know this wouldn’t have happened I believe. They’re cynical & burnout from dealing with repeat offenders & criminals so much. It’s no excuse and we have BIG brutality & use of force problems to fix among USA Police. Police as a group too often are far too rude & are control freaks, lacking manners & patience & tolerance & empathy. I just wish they’d seen his website The California Kid & they would have read his words & known he was a good kid, not a thug. I don’t know but he also was very tall & slim & that may have helped indicate (wrongfully) drug use. He had Crohn’s disease & likely weighed less simply because of that chronic digestive disease & malabsorption. Police need to stop prejudging & stop & listen more because they’d make far less mistakes with humans. Anyway all I wrote you for was to say thanks for hitting the same points I see about his story !!! Ironic is not the word but omg I can’t shake how his website & reading his words made me feel so much sadder and worse over his tragedy. His life had purpose and I feel like writers or filmmakers can make some impactful maybe helpful story by sharing more of who he was & what he felt and said & set it down alongside these heinous videos & photos as a lesson to the world. So far you’re right though the LENS will not only tell his last story but it will defend, exonerate him when if it hadn’t been filmed he likely wouldn’t have had a defense. Not among that group. The Scorpion Unit even intimidated the EMTs enough through cop peer pressure they took their cues from them alone. Too afraid to go against subtle cop pressure or implied or stern commands to not render aide to Tyre; EMTs stood or paced nearby looking utterly ridiculous in their role. No care, no first aid, no vitals checked, no airway assessment etc. Yes they need to be fired too. All of them need to be prosecuted to learn right and wrong.
    Write some more of his story ?? Ask a writer friend to do so?? The photographer words he wrote sure make us know him better.

  2. Ted Larsen on January 30, 2023 at 11:26 pm

    Security at North York General hospital in Toronto Ontario ended up killing a woman (COPD patient) who wasn’t (wait for it) wearing a mask.

    Cue the Standford Prison Experiment analogies.

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