RowVaughn Wells’ world was turned upside down on Jan. 7 when her son Tyre Nichols was beaten within inches of his life by five cops a mere 100 yards from her Memphis home.
The 29-year-old photographer called out for his mother—painstakingly similar to the way George Floyd cried for his own mother as he was pinned to the ground with an officer kneeling on his neck in 2020—as he was repeatedly struck. Wells never heard Nichols’ yells for her, and she had no idea his life was in jeopardy. In retrospect, she realized she felt a connection to her son.
“I felt a lot of pain and discomfort in my stomach, and, at the time, I didn’t realize what it was, but once I found out, then I just said, ‘That was my son’s pain that I was feeling,’” she told ABC News in an interview Friday (Jan. 27).
The heartbroken woman was blindsided by Nichols’ critical injuries. She claimed that she was told that “he was only pepper sprayed and tased.” Bodycam footage revealed the young man was punched, kicked, held down on the ground and battered by the officers. He complained of shortness of breath and was unable to sit up unassisted, yet police and EMTs were slow to render him aid.
Wells realized the extent of Nichols’ injuries as soon as she laid eyes on him. “When I got to the hospital, my son was beaten up; he had bruises all over his body, his head was the size almost of a watermelon, his neck was busted because of the swelling, his neck was broken. My son’s whole body was just black and blue,” she recalled.
She knew then that her son had already transitioned. “They had him on all these breathing machines. He’d already went into cardiac arrest, and his kidneys were failing. It just shocked me because I was told something else… I knew then [that] my son was already deceased.”
View the full interview below.