ATLANTA — For the first time since the murder of Tyre Nichols, his grandmother is speaking exclusively to Channel 2 Action News.
Video released last week by Memphis police showed officers striking Nichols with a baton and punching and kicking him after being pulled over on Jan. 7.
For more than 20 minutes after the beating, authorities gave Nichols only minimal medical attention, video shows. He was taken to a hospital, where he died three days later.
Initial reports indicated that officers stopped Nichols on suspicion of reckless driving, though Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis has said that investigators have been unable to find evidence to substantiate the claim.
For Johnnie Laray Honeycutt, all she has left to remember her grandson by, are old pictures of Nichols, which she said told Channel 2′s Audrey Washington that the grief over his death is overwhelming at times.
Washington spoke with Honeycutt at her home here in metro Atlanta, in her first interview since police released the video of Nichols’ deadly beating.
Honeycutt said she wants lawmakers to hear her heartbreak and take action so her grandson’s death won’t be in vain.
“(They are) killing our babies for nothing,” she said about what happened to her grandson.
Honeycutt said still can’t bring herself to watch the full videos of the beating Nichols received from police earlier this month.
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She told Washington that she’s only seen clips that have been shown on the news and one image that still sticks in her mind.
“I looked in his eye and I saw what he was saying without him saying a word: ‘Help me. What did I do?’” Honeycutt said. “You can tell when a child is worried, and he was scared.”
Honeycutt remembered her grandson as being all-around lovely.
“My baby was a skateboarder. He worked at FedEx. He had the best mother and stepfather in the world. Why would you want to do this to him?” Honeycutt said.
She said her final goodbyes in Memphis during a small private family memorial service.
Honeycutt said she watched the protests across the country and here in metro Atlanta, following the release of the police cam video.
Now she wants other grandparents of grandchildren who died during similar police interactions to take their fight to lawmakers in Washington.
“We need to come down on Washington, DC because those men that we birthed into the world are not going to do a damn thing until we say stop,” Honeycutt said. “Us women are tired of these people, these men that we birth in the world killing our babies for nothing.”
She still keeps pictures of Nichols close by.
“He was 5 and he had his little hat and his little preschool thing on,” Honeycutt said showing Washington pictures of Tyre.
As for what she wants to say to her grandson Tyre…
“You know you have a family that loves you and everything is going to be just fine. You don’t have to worry about these people here anymore,” Honeycutt said.
She told Washington that though her heart is broken Honeycutt prays for the officers charged with killing her grandson.
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