The officers, who were also arrested and booked at the Shelby County jail on Thursday, have all been released after posting bail. Lawyers for the officers said that they had not been able to see the video in advance. But they urged the community to avoid rushing to judgment. Blake Ballin, who represents Mr. Mills, acknowledged the content of the video was likely painful for the community to see, but that video would necessarily give a comprehensive account of what happened. “I don’t know how many angles, I don’t know the perspective,” he said. “There’s always more to the story.”
City officials decided to wait until 6 p.m. to release the video because that was when schools and most of the businesses downtown would be closed.
“Very, very few people will be at work,” said Frank Colvett Jr., a councilman from the city’s east side, who was not involved in that planning. “Everyone will have had plenty of time to get home from school, from their jobs, and just stay home.”
Michalyn Easter-Thomas, a Memphis city councilwoman, said all City Council members had an opportunity to see the video before the release. But she was among those who decided against watching it. Activists with Black Lives Matter of Memphis said they were going to avoid doing so.
Ms. Wells, Mr. Nichols’s mother, said she could not finish it. “I’ve heard it is very horrific, very horrific,” she said. “And any of you who have children, please don’t let them see it.”
Ms. Easter-Thomas felt like she didn’t need to “see it in order to know what was done,” she said. But she did not discourage others. “For some,” she said, “it will help them see the truth.”
Mr. Colvett said one of his primary conclusions after seeing a portion of the video was about the character of the officers: “I no longer consider them Memphians.”
Jessica Jaglois, Jesus Jiménez, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Mark Walker contributed reporting from Memphis. Reporting was also contributed by Richard Fausset,Eliza Fawcett, Jacey Fortin, Mitch Smith and Remy Tumin.