CNN Political Commentator Van Jones became emotional on Friday while discussing the appalling footage of the assault of Tyre Nichols by police in Memphis. The video, Jones said, was “brutal, inhumane, unacceptable, unjustifiable,” and “as bad as people say.”
But it also exposed a lack of humanity and utter cowardice by the police who beat and eventually murdered Nichols. “Even if you couldn’t see it, you could hear the inhumanity here,” he said.
We will not show the full video of the assault, but it’s important to know that Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx worker, was followed home by police officers the evening of Jan. 7 and pulled over for what they claimed was ‘reckless driving’ less than 50 yards from his residence. Of course, the Memphis police chief has since said that camera footage from other locations in the area doesn’t support that claim and that nothing appears to have justified the stop.
Police were immediately aggressive and violent with Nichols, actions local authorities say were “unexplainable,” and eventually they brutalized and beat him mercilessly for several minutes. He died from his injuries 3 days later. Police released the video on Friday night in an effort to mitigate possible protests. All officers have been arrested and charged with murder.
Lemon discussed the footage on Friday, saying “The voices are so telling. Tyre’s voice the first time you hear him. He’s calm. He’s trying to calm the police down. He’s saying ‘all right, all right. All right.’ He goes from a voice of reason, and calm. And they are so brutal toward him that he runs”.
“The next time you hear him he’s gone from calm to panic. Ma ma, ma, ma, screaming for his mother. He’s 100 yards from his house, hoping that somebody can help him. And then, he goes from a voice of calm, to panic, to agony, to completely incoherent, unable to form a word. You watch this deterioration of a human being. If you couldn’t see it, you could hear it. You could hear it,” Jones continued.
“And then the cops voices. Profane. ‘I hope they stop his ass.’ Unbelievable level of viciousness, and then the only sympathy is for themselves because they’re so busy pepper spraying him that pepper spraying each other. Look at the reaction of the police to the pepper spray on themselves. They can’t take, stand the burning, the sensation, the [pepper spray] in their eyes. They need help from each other, and yet still, the beading is continuing for someone else, and no aid to someone else who got the full force of the pepper spray. And so even if you didn’t see these images, just the voice of Tyree. You can tell he was the only calm person at the beginning. And at the end he can’t even form a word,” Jones added.
“This is disgusting. It’s despicable. inhumane. It is shocking. It’s as bad as people said. But even if you couldn’t see it, you could hear the inhumanity here,” Jones concluded.
The commentary, which Jones posted on Twitter, does not include footage of the violence Jones described. But it does include very limited excerpts of the video, and subsequently we’ve put it at the bottom of this page so you can avoid seeing it if you prefer.
In a separate clip from the same episode of his CNN show, Jones spoke with fellow CNN personality Don Lemon about the use of tear gas and how what the cops who murdered Nichols did was a form of torture. That video has no footage of the attack, and you can watch it immediately below: