Lawyers for the four officers who have pleaded not guilty — Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean — did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Blake Ballin, a lawyer for Desmond Mills Jr., who pleaded guilty to charges in November, declined to comment.
The footage also captures conversations among the officers in which they repeatedly claim that Mr. Nichols was intoxicated or on drugs, say his strength made it difficult to overpower him and that he reached for one officer’s gun. The videos do not show Mr. Nichols reaching for a gun and show him trying to comply with the officers’ rapid-fire demands.
The officers belonged to the department’s Scorpion street crime unit, which has since been disbanded after cultivating a reputation for intimidating and aggressive behavior. In one clip, taken from a patrol car camera, officers who arrived at the scene but did not appear to be involved in the violence can be heard discussing their apprehension about the unit’s behavior, with one officer confiding, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
The footage released on Tuesday also shows one officer, Preston Hemphill, speaking directly with Mr. Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, and stepfather, telling them how Mr. Nichols “started fighting with us” after a traffic stop at a red light. (Mr. Hemphill, who is white, was fired from the department for his role in the encounter, but he was not charged.)
Over Ms. Wells’s protestations that her son would not have fought back, Mr. Hemphill said that Mr. Nichols was “fighting hard, too” and that “from the way he was fighting, he had to have been on something.”
Police documents also found that the men misled police officials about what happened. An autopsy report found that Mr. Nichols had a blood alcohol concentration of .049 percent, well below the legal limit for driving in Tennessee.
Kassie Bracken, Abby Goodnough, Adeel Hassan, Sean Plambeck and Rick Rojas contributed reporting.