MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While we wait for the release of police video showing the events that led to the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, WREG spoke with an expert about how this could have happened.

Memphis police officers Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Junior, Demetrius Haley, and Tadarrius Bean were terminated for their role in the arrest that led to Nichols’ death.

We haven’t had the chance to share the officer’s stories. But Tuesday night we spoke with Seth Stoughton, a former police officer and law professor at the University of South Carolina who testified as an expert witness for the prosecution against Derek Chauvin, the officer accused of killing Floyd.

He said in most excessive use of force cases, race and fear is almost always relevant. The former officer told us the fear of being hurt themselves is sometimes a driving force behind the excessive use of force.

“Most of the time in excessive force situations, the officer is probably scared and that might be entirely unreasonable is in part a response to training,” Stoughton said.

Stoughton said it’s hard to see more cases of police brutality called into question.

“I think it’s disappointing but inevitable,” he said.

In Nichols’ case, one of his attorneys described him as a human pinata for Memphis police during a traffic stop. We asked Stoughton about officers’ mindsets in confrontational situations.

“When it comes to de-escalation tactics, how are officers trained to respond,” he said. “From a data perspective nationally, there isn’t nearly enough emphasis on interpersonnel communication skills including specific de-escalation techniques.”

According to Nichols’ family, he was 6-foot-3 and 145 pounds — the weight loss was the result of Crohn’s disease.

During Monday’s press conference, civil rights attorney Ben Crump had this to say about race and excessive force.

“What I’ve come to learn from doing this civil rights work against excessive force policing is that it is not the race of the police officer that is the determinable factor of the amount of excessive force that would be exerted. It is the race of the citizen,” he said.

It’s a statement that Stoughton’s data supports.

“Officers overall use more force about three times as much force against individuals of color than they do against white individuals,” he said.

As for why that is, there isn’t just one reason but there is a correlation between high crime rates in impoverished black communities which often means more police.

“That’s the result of hundreds of years of educational policy and housing police. And fiscal policy,” Stoughton said. “The question for me not really is was race a factor because it probably was. It’s just a matter of figuring out how race was a factor.”

As for how to prevent this from happening again, he says it’s going to take training and change from top to bottom at police departments across the country.