Analysis: A timeline of how Tyre Nichols traffic stop became violent

A moment-by-moment analysis of the eight minutes between MPD officers pulling Nichols over and the brutal beating

By , Daily Memphian Updated: January 30, 2023 10:50 AM CT | Published: January 29, 2023 4:00 AM CT

The release of graphic video footage of Tyre Nichols’ brutal beating did little to shed new light on why Nichols was pulled over, raising questions about why the traffic stop occurred and why it escalated to violence so quickly.

The Daily Memphian analyzed the earliest available footage of the Nichols traffic stop in detail, creating a moment-by-moment timeline of the Memphis Police Department officers’ increasingly aggressive responses, even as Nichols himself remained calm and compliant. 

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Eight minutes after Nichols is pulled from his car, other video shows him on the ground being beaten by police officers.

This early footage of the traffic stop, which was released by MPD, does not show the moments when Nichols was pulled over. Prior to the video being released, MPD offered little detail on why Nichols was stopped at the intersection of Raines and Ross roads on the night of Jan. 7.

The first ‘confrontation’

Initially, MPD said officers were attempting to stop Nichols for reckless driving. A tweet from MPD on Jan. 8 stated there was a “confrontation” as officers approached Nichols, and that he fled on foot.

MPD Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis said on Jan. 27 that what she read on the police report was that Nichols was seen driving on the wrong side of the road. In a later video after Nichols has been beaten, one of the officers alleges Nichols was driving on the wrong side of the road before he was pulled over. 

“What you won’t see is what led up to the stop, and that’s where we’ve had a lot of confusion,” Davis said. “We know what was said (by the officers), but unfortunately, we haven’t been able to capture any recording that supports the reckless driving.”

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“Everybody doesn’t have a camera along that area,” Davis said. “But still, it raises the question, what was the original stop for in the first place?”

In the body cam footage that MPD labeled Video 1, Nichols does not appear to initiate the “confrontation.” He does not even raise his voice until after he’s been aggressively pulled from his car, shoved and twisted around by three police officers and finally pushed to the ground.

Nichols repeatedly complies with the officers’ instructions as the officers are screaming at him. The video of the moments before Nichols flees is blurry and unclear, but the officers have at least been shoving him, threatening to Taser him and continually screaming at him to “get on the ground” even though he is already lying on the pavement.

Other questions raised

Beyond what caused police to pull over Nichols, other questions raised by the detailed analysis include the identity of the officer whose body camera footage is shown. After Nichols has fled and been caught by other officers, the officer can be heard saying, “I hope they stomp his ass.”

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Although the officer’s face is never visible, he is clearly a white male. As of Jan. 27, the day the video was released, the only officers who have been charged with crimes are five police officers who are all Black. MPD has said other officers are being investigated, but it is unclear if this officer is one of them. It is also unclear if this officer was at the scene of the beating of Nichols or if he was a member of the SCORPION unit, of which the charged men were members.

MPD has not responded to questions about the identity of the officer whose body cam footage was released. 

The identities of the two other MPD officers are also unclear, although some reports have identified one as Demetrius Haley, one of the five officers who was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder and other offenses.

Another question raised by the analysis is whether a Shelby County Sheriff’s deputy who drives up to the scene after Nichols has fled is one of the deputies Sheriff Floyd Bonner suspended after viewing video of the incident. Bonner announced the suspensions and an investigation Friday, Jan. 27. It is unclear if Bonner previously knew the deputies were at the scene.

Editor’s Note: These videos contain content that may be upsetting to sensitive viewers. The Daily Memphian is adding it here due to the public’s right to know and overwhelming interest in what exactly happened to Tyre Nichols.

Timeline and analysis of MPD Video 1

All times approximate.

8:23:48 p.m. — The body cam video begins with a first officer driving in a squad car. The speedometer is intermittently visible and shows the car driving at between 20 mph and nearly 60 mph. There is no audio yet.

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8:24:44 p.m. — The officer stops the car and exits the vehicle. Tyre Nichols’ vehicle is stopped in front of the squad car at the intersection of Raines and Ross roads. The car is pointed west in the left turn lane on Raines. There are unmarked police vehicles in front of and to the left of Nichols’ car. Nichols is in the driver’s side seat of the car.

A second officer is already at the passenger side window of Nichols’ car, gun out and pointed at the window. The second officer may be in plain clothes and can be heard screaming at Nichols that he is “about to get your ass blown the (expletive) up.” The first officer walks toward Nichols’ car with his gun raised. A third uniformed officer appears and opens the driver’s side door.

8:24:54 p.m. — A third officer can be heard yelling, “Get the (expletive) out the car,” as he pulls on Nichols’ arm or shoulder. Nichols says, “D---, man, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything.” When the third officer yells, “Turn your ass around,” Nichols turns around, calmly responding, “All right, all right, all right.” He repeats this as officers shove and twist him, and then one begins to yell at Nichols to “get on the (expletive) ground.”

As Nichols sits on the street, an officer continues to yell at him to get on the ground. Nichols says calmly, “OK, OK.” An officer screams he will “Tase your ass.” Nichols says calmly, “All right, I’m on the ground.”

Two, if not three, officers are crowded around Nichols on the ground, continuing to yell at Nichols to get on the ground and to “lay down.” As he does lay down on his side, Nichols says calmly, “OK, dude, dang.” Nichols adds calmly, “Man, you guys are really doing a lot right now. All right, I am on the ground. I’m just trying to go home.”

Officers repeatedly yell at him, “Lay down!” Nichols, lying on the pavement, yells back, “I am on the ground!”

8:25:50 p.m. — A scuffle ensues that is unclear on the video. At least one officer (the second officer) also sprays a chemical agent. Nichols stands and pulls away. At least one officer (the first officer) shoots his Taser at Nichols. Nichols can be seen trying to pull off his shirt or jacket, which may be caught in the wires from the Taser. He runs south on Ross Road, which is in the direction of his house. The first and second officers run after him.

The two officers give up running after Nichols within about 20 seconds. The first officer says into his radio that “the suspect” is running south on Ross Road. The first officer says to the second officer, “One of the prongs hit the bastard,” apparently referencing his attempt to shoot Nichols with his Taser.

The officers return to their cars at Raines and Ross to rinse their eyes because of the chemical agent. They are heavily winded. The third officer is not visible, and the squad car that had been stopped in front of Nichols’ vehicle is gone.

8:31:55 p.m. — An SUV from the Shelby County Sheriff’s office pulls up to the scene. A deputy seems to ask, “Which way did he run?” The first officer says, “That way,” and points down Ross Road. The SUV drives off.

8:32:36 p.m. — The first officer says aloud, “They found him.” The officer is winding up the wires from the Taser he shot at Nichols. There is talking on his radio, but it is mostly inaudible.

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8:33:36 p.m. — The first officer can be heard telling the second officer, “Martin and all them are over there, chasing him.” This is presumably a reference to MPD officer Emmitt Martin III, one of the five officers later charged with the second-degree murder of Nichols.

8:33:52 p.m. — The first officer twice tells the second officer, “I hope they stomp his ass.”

The first officer tells the second officer, “Smith is calling for other cars ‘cause him and Martin are chasing him.” This is presumably a reference to MPD officer Justin Smith, another of the five officers later charged with the second-degree murder of Nichols.

8:34:24 p.m. — The first officer helps the second officer put on his vest. The second officer tells the first officer, “Stay with the car,” which is apparently a reference to Nichols’ car.

8:34:40 p.m. — The second officer drives away in his unmarked squad car, turning left onto Ross Road in the direction of where Nichols was found.

Video 1 ends at approximately 8:35 p.m., 11 minutes after the body cam footage from the first officer begins. On separate footage labeled Video 3 by MPD, Nichols can be seen on the ground at 8:32 p.m. Officers are around him, holding him down and hitting him. This is approximately eight minutes after Nichols was pulled from his vehicle.

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Other videos of the incident are all included here, including versions edited for length by The Daily Memphian and the full videos as released by MPD.


Tyre Nichols Memphis Police Department
Eric Barnes

Eric Barnes

Eric Barnes is CEO of The Daily Memphian, host of Behind the Headlines on WKNO-TV, host of The Sidebar on WYXR 91.7, and the author of four novels.

Julia Baker

Julia Baker

Julia Baker covers Memphis and Shelby County’s law enforcement agencies and is a member of The Daily Memphian’s public safety reporting team. A lifelong Memphian, Julia graduated from the University of Memphis in 2021. Other publications and organizations she has written for include Chalkbeat, Memphis Flyer, Memphis Parent magazine and Memphis magazine.

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