The devastated parents of the black man slain in a beating caught on video by Memphis police recounted the horrors of his death Saturday during a visit to Harlem where they once again demanded justice for their slain son.
“This has been a very difficult time for our family,” said Rowvaughn Wells, the mother of 29-year-old Tire Nichols, who was murdered. “I’m still trying to process all of this and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve had my good days, I’ve had my bad days. But the only thing that keeps me going is all the prayers I’ve been getting.”
The victim’s heartbroken father, Rodney Wells, recalled the gruesome sight of his son’s battered corpse after the fatal Jan. 7 attack on the 6-foot-3, 140-pound victim at an alleged traffic stop that turned into homicide.
“Not only was my eye swollen shut, but my neck was broken,” Wells said. “He had abrasions on his wrist so deep it looked like he had been cut. His head was about the size of a watermelon. And you’re going to tell me they pepper-sprayed it and tasted it?
The family appeared with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy for Nichols at his funeral, at the Harlem House of Justice.
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Video from police body cameras and street surveillance cameras captured the savage attack on Nichols, who was heard screaming for his mother during the officers’ relentless beating. The victim died three days later, and the broadcast of the videos shocked the nation and sparked protests across the country and in New York City.
“You say my son was driving recklessly and this is why you pulled him over, no evidence, no camera footage, no dash cams,” Wells said. “That shield doesn’t give you the power to go out and commit murder. Through all this, we will get justice for Tyre.”
Seven Memphis police officers have been fired and five charged with second-degree murder after the gruesome attack in which they ignored the helpless victim’s screams at her mother while repeatedly assaulting Nichols with their fists, shoes and batons.
The father expressed outrage at the recent retirement of the Memphis police lieutenant, who resigned before he could become the eighth officer fired from the force and lose his pension and other benefits.
“Thinking that he will be able to escape the consequences of his actions, we are not going to let that happen,” Wells said. “The community is not going to let that happen.”
The family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said the footage from that night illustrated exactly what happened to the innocent Nichols for the world to witness.
“Tire never posed a threat to them,” Crump said. “He was always saying ‘What did I do?’ and he never got an answer. I think the truth will come out…there was no reason for Tire Nichols to be arrested.”