“Where was the humanity? They beat my son like a piñata.”
Friday morning, CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed Tyre Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, and stepfather, Rodney Wells, about the violent police beating to death of her son, Tyre.
On January 7, Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was reportedly pulled over about 250 feet away from his home by Memphis police officers. A police statement said Nichols was pulled over for suspected reckless driving, after which a “confrontation” ensued. Five officers were involved in beating Nichols to the brink of death; he succumbed to his injuries three days later from said “confrontation.” He died in the hospital.
The five officers were fired nearly two weeks after the traffic stop; each was arrested and charged with numerous crimes, including second-degree murder, on Thursday.
In an interview following the indictment of the five officers, Nichols’s mother revealed that police had initially blocked her from seeing her dying son at the hospital because he was “under arrest.”
Nichols was “already gone” by the time she and her husband arrived at the hospital, she said. “They had beat him to a pulp.”
After losing their son to such heinous violence dealt by those supposedly meant to “protect and serve,” Nichols’s family now is just trying to make sense of such senselessness.
“Where was the humanity?” Nichols’s mother asked. She described the shocking imbalance—her 150-pound son, afflicted with Crohn’s disease, being beaten to death by five police officers.
She actually feels “sorry” for the officers. She described the harm and shame the officers have brought to their own families and to the Black community. “They didn’t have to do this.”
“I don’t hate anybody, that’s not in my nature,” she said. “I just feel sorry for them because they did something horrendous.”
To hear Nichols’s mother is to attempt to understand the profoundly difficult burden she now holds. Mired in the grief of such unspeakable violence, she speaks to the severe lack of humanity that plagues our structures of policing, and the vicious consequences of that poison.