Photo: William Nation / Contributor via Getty Images
  /  01.28.2023

Harrowing footage of Tyre Nichols being beaten by cops in Memphis has drawn comparisons across social media to the 1991 recording of Rodney King’s brutal encounter with officers in Los Angeles.

As widely reported throughout the years, King was intoxicated when he led police on a nearly eight-mile pursuit. When he finally pulled over, he and two passengers were ordered to lay flat on the ground. Multiple officers reportedly tried to force King to the ground while he was on his hands and knees. Two policemen then tased him before ultimately resorting to beating him in the head, neck, chest and torso with batons. The 89-second attack was caught on camera by a nearby citizen, George Holliday, making it the first viral footage of police brutality.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Nichols’ family, said the footage would strike a visceral similarity to King’s beating before it was released on Friday (Jan. 27). “You get to see his humanity during the whole brutal attack… it’s just so difficult to watch,” Crump told CNN. He continued, “It’s going to remind you of Rodney King in many regards… being assaulted, battered, punched, kicked, tased, pepper sprayed.”

Lora Dene King, Rodney’s daughter, watched the disturbing recording of the fatal traffic stop. She said it was sickening. “I don’t feel well. It’s not a good feeling. I don’t wish that upon anybody’s family,” Lora told Rolling Stone. “I don’t think anyone should go through something like that. I don’t see how people are OK, because I’m not. I’m human, and if you’re human, you shouldn’t be OK with that video.”

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis echoed a similar sentiment, adding that she was outraged by the officers’ conduct that defied humanity. “You’re gonna see a disregard for life, duty of care that we’re all sworn to, and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement. And I’m sure that — as I said before — that individuals watching will feel what the family felt. And if you don’t, you’re not a human being,” said Davis.

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