Videos Contradict Initial Police Report on Tyre Nichols Arrest

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In Minneapolis, for example, the police said in May 2020 that George Floyd had died following a “medical incident,” a description that was soon challenged by a teenager’s cellphone video, leading to international protests and charges against four officers.

In Mr. Nichols’s arrest, the officer wrote that the police stopped Mr. Nichols’s car on Jan. 7 after seeing him drive quickly and into oncoming traffic, and that, once he was stopped, Mr. Nichols had been “refusing a lawful detention” and fought detectives on the scene.

Cerelyn Davis, the Memphis police chief, has said investigators have been unable to determine whether Mr. Nichols was driving recklessly. And the videos show that officers had approached his car with their guns drawn, while threatening and cursing at him, before pulling him out and pushing him to the ground.

Mr. Nichols, sounding distressed, says “You don’t do that, OK?” and then tries to follow officers’ contradictory and rapid fire commands, which included ordering him to get on the ground while he was already lying down. “All right, I’m on the ground,” he says, before responding to another demand: “Yes, sir.”

But the police continued to be aggressive, with one threatening to fire his Taser at Mr. Nichols and another threatening to “break” his hands. Mr. Nichols pleaded with them to stop, and said at one point, “You guys are really doing a lot right now.”

The police report said that, sometime around this period, Mr. Nichols had grabbed for a detective’s gun, something not shown in any of the videos. The officers then deployed pepper spray into Mr. Nichols’s face, after which he ran away, toward his mother’s house.

A photograph of the police report was first posted online over the weekend by Thaddeus Matthews, a talk-show host in Memphis who is known as The Cussing Pastor and who said he received it from a source. The local district attorney, Steven J. Mulroy, who is leading the prosecution of the officers, said on Monday that he had a copy of a police report with the same account.

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