MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As her son lay bleeding from fatal injuries, the family of Tire Nichols said Friday that not only did police fail to help, they cruelly smoked cigarettes in the moments after the fatal beating.
The family’s comments came hours before police released body camera footage of the Jan. 7 arrest, described as «heinous, reckless and inhumane» by Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis.
A grand jury indicted five former Memphis police officers Friday, charging them with second-degree murder, in connection with Nichols’ death.
The family’s attorney, Ben Crump, and the victim’s stepfather, Rodney Wells, watched police video of the confrontation and said they were stunned by the nonchalant actions of police after the beating.
«That was almost the worst part,» Wells told NBC News. «Not only were they hanging out smoking cigarettes, but nobody was taking care of my (injured) son.»
Nichols, 29, was hospitalized in critical condition following the arrest and died three days later.
«It’s almost as if the lack of help is as offensive as the brutality itself,» Crump said of the alleged smoke break after the beating.
The officers in the footage could be heard nonchalantly describing the fatal blows they inflicted, according to Crump.
“They are talking about it like this is business as usual,” the lawyer said. «‘Man, he was hitting him with straight punches,’ that’s what he said.»
Police footage will also show Nichols calling for her mother and groaning in pain after the beating, her family said.
But Nichols’ screams were likely more literal and less like a dying man’s desire to see his mother, his loved ones said, since the beating occurred a short distance from his parents’ home.
«He was hoping we would hear him so we could go out and help him,» Wells said.
Police initially said Nichols ran after he was pulled over for reckless driving, but Davis said msnbc on Friday that a review of the camera footage failed to «substantiate» the reckless driving claim.
Nichols’ death has sparked widespread outrage, with law enforcement agencies across the country bracing for protests after police body camera video was released.
The five officers, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, were charged Thursday, with Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy saying their actions resulted in death. of Nichols.
They were booked into the Shelby County Jail on charges of second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression and one count of aggravated assault, prosecutors announced Thursday.
All five were out on bail as of Friday morning, jail records show.
Preliminary findings from an autopsy conducted by a forensic pathologist for the Nichols family show that he was severely beaten before he died, attorneys for the family said. The Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released an official cause of death.
Nichols’ case is being investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Justice, which has launched a civil rights investigation into the traffic stop.
The victim’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, said she was touched by a third-grade classmate of her son’s who reached out to her after Nichols’ death. The man recounted how he was often bullied and teased at school, but Nichols always stood up for him.
“That was my son. It was just a light,” Wells said. “He was a beautiful soul. He touched everyone who was around ”.
wells he said he wishes he had had one more moment with his son while he was conscious.
«That I love him very much and that mommy is going to miss him,» he said. «That’s all she would have said.»
Marlene Lenthang Y david k li contributed.