Tire Nichols' mother recounts how she found out about her son's arrest 2:16
RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tire Nichols, the 29-year-old black man who died from injuries sustained during a police traffic stop in Memphis earlier this month, says the officers involved have "shamed their own families" and "have shamed the black community.
Wells spoke with CNN's Don Lemon on Friday morning in his first interview since the five officers involved were criminally charged.
"They have put their own families in danger. They have shamed their own families. They have shamed the black community," she said through tears.
"I'm sorry for them. Really. I'm really sorry for them, because they didn't have to do this."
The five former officers, all black, are Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin and Desmond Mills, Jr. They were all fired from the Memphis Police Department on January 20.
They each face charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated unlawful imprisonment, two counts of official misconduct and one count of repression of an official.
Officers pulled over Nichols on January 7 for reckless driving and a "standoff" ensued, according to police.
On January 10, three days after the traffic stop, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) announced that Nichols had died of injuries sustained in a "use-of-force incident with agents," according to a statement.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn "CJ" Davis said Friday that authorities have since been unable to find anything to corroborate probable cause of reckless driving by Nichols prior to the fatal encounter.
Timeline of investigations into the death of Tire Nichols following a traffic stop and arrest by Memphis police
Nichols was subdued and roughed up by the officers, Wells says.
"They beat my son like a piñata," he said.
"Those men, if you combine their weights, all of them, were over 1,000 pounds, beating and beating a 150-pound person to death," he said.
Wells says he wants "bad officers" removed from the police force.
"People try to say that blacks only go after white cops. That's not true," he said.
"We don't care what color the officer is. We want bad cops removed from the force. We know there are a lot of great officers, I know... But there are also bad officers. And those are the ones we need to get rid of."
"They beat him up"
Wells told the heartbreaking story of when the police came to her door after her son was beaten and learned of his devastating injuries.
He says Memphis police "knocked" on his door on the night of January 7 and told him that Nichols had been pulled over for drink driving.
The police, he says, informed him that they had to use pepper spray and a stun gun on him and that he would be taken to hospital after being treated by paramedics.
Wells claims police attributed the use of his force to Nichols' "superhuman energy", which made it difficult for them to put the handcuffs on him.
"What they described was not my son," he says.
Police initially denied his request to go to the hospital with Nichols, Wells says.
It wasn't until around 4 a.m. that she received a call from a doctor asking her and her husband to meet Nichols at the hospital, where he was being treated for her injuries.
Tire Nichols case: the actions that the authorities have taken on his death in Memphis
"The doctor told me that my son had gone into cardiac arrest and that his kidneys were failing," he explains.
"This does not correspond to the fact that someone was electrocuted or pepper sprayed," as the police had told him.
"When my husband and I got to the hospital and I saw my son, he was already gone. They had turned him to mush," Wells said.
Her son's injuries were very serious and he was unconscious, he says.
"He had bruises all over. His head was swollen like a watermelon. His neck was torn apart from the swelling. They broke his neck. My son's nose looked like an S," she says.
"They beat him up. And when I saw that I knew my son was gone, the end. Even if he had lived, he would have been a vegetable."
"Now that I'm connecting the dots, I think they were trying to cover it up when they came to my door," he added.
"I knew something was wrong. I just didn't understand why my son was detained in the first place."
A police video shows a brutal beating
Wells' interview came as the United States prepares to release video of Nichols' arrest and beating.
Police Chief Davis said the video shows "acts that defy humanity" and "a disregard for life."
The official compared the footage to the fatal beating of Rodney King by police in Los Angeles in 1991.
Wells says she was not able to see the full video of her son's arrest and beating.
The family's attorney, Ben Crump, said one of the last things Nichols did in the video was yell for her mother.
"He calls her three times," Crump told Wells during the interview on Friday.
"Heartbreaking screams for her mother."
"He was a mama's boy," Wells said, his voice ragged with pain.
"That boy loved me to death. He has my name tattooed on his arm."
Rodney Wells, Nichols' stepfather, says he didn't want his wife to see the video, but his lawyers told him to try to see as much of it as possible.
"She heard a word and she had to leave the room," Rodney Wells said.
"And that was when she was initially taken out of the car and she was like, 'What did I do?
Rodney Wells described the rest of the confrontation that was left on video.
"They proceeded to pull him out of the car and were trying to wrestle him to the ground," he said.
"And he freaked out. So he was athletic enough to get out of his situation and run, and he was trying to run home, because he was three blocks from the house when they pulled him over."
This is how relatives and officials who have seen the video of the arrest of Tire Nichols respond
Rodney Wells says he saw on video how the officers used a retractable metal stick to beat his stepson.
"I saw them take that out and start hitting my son with it," he said.
"I saw the officers beat him up, I saw the officers kick him. One officer kicked him a couple of times like he was a football."
He says he was surprised to see that even though there were about 10 officers on the scene, no one tried to intervene or offer Nichols help.
"No one tried to stop him, even after he was beaten and leaned against the car, no one gave him any help at all," he said.
"They were hanging around, smoking cigarettes like everything was cool and like, you know, bragging about what happened."
"He was sitting there, and then he collapsed. An officer came up to him and said, 'Sit down you son of a bitch,' while he was handcuffed. So he had to get back up, he collapsed again and they went back to pick him up, but nobody helped him," he continued.
"I saw some firefighters come out, they just walked around and no one gave them any help, and they are supposed to be trained in first aid," he said.
"No mother should go through this"
Nichols' mother described her son as a "beautiful soul" who "impacted a lot of people".
"I always joke, because he'll come in the house and say 'hi parents,' and I'll never hear that again," he said.
"I will never cook for my son again. I will never get a hug from my son again. I will never get anything from my son again, just because some officers decided they wanted to hurt him."
"No mother should have to go through this," she said.
"I'm still trying to figure it all out and trying to make sense of it all. Right now it's still like a nightmare."
"I don't have my baby. I will never have my baby again," Wells said.
Who was Tire Nichols?
Son, father and someone who enjoyed skating, photography and sunsets, according to his family
Statements from the family have painted a loving portrait of Nichols, who was the youngest of four children and a doting father to his own 4-year-old son.
He worked at FedEx and was passionate about photography and skateboarding.
"I know he was a good person. And that all of this...everything that's good about Tire will come out and that's what keeps me going because I feel like my son was sent here on a mission from God," Wells said. .
"Your mission is over. It's over," Wells said.
"And he was sent back home. And God is not going to let any of his children's names go in vain. So, when this is all over, it's going to be a good thing and a positive thing because my son was a person good and positive."
-- Amanda Watts contributed to this reporting.
-- Amanda Watts contributed to this reporting.