TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida law enforcement leaders expressed their horror at the actions of five former Memphis police officers charged in the death of Tyre Nichols after body cam video of his beating was released Friday.
The video was released a day after the officers were charged with the 29-year-old’s murder.
In the video, Nichols is seen being pulled roughly out of a car by a police officer while he said he didn’t do anything.
“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Nichols said. “I’m just trying to go home.”
The video then showed officers beating and swearing at Nichols for three minutes while he screamed. At one point, Nichols even screamed for his mother.
“I’m going to baton the f— out you,” one officer said.
Memphis officials identified the officers as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III, and Justin Smith — all charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. Other officers were said to be under investigation as well for their involvement in Nichols’ arrest, according to police.
In response to the video’s release, several law enforcement leaders here in Florida condemned the actions of the five officers.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri called the actions of the officers appalling.
“What I saw in those videos was not law enforcement – that was a street beating,” Gualtieri said. “I stand with law enforcement leaders across the country in strongly condemning their actions. There is no justification for it and they all must be held accountable.”
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who has been in law enforcement for 35 years, said he never saw something so reprehensible and that it made him “want to throw up.”
“To everyone outraged by the video and especially to the grieving family, I am so sorry these officers betrayed not only their oaths but their humanity,” Chitwood said. “The Nichols family is in my prayers tonight even though I know it will not ease or even reduce the pain they are feeling.”
North Port police Chief Todd Garrison also condemned the Nichols death as “beyond disturbing.”
“My heart breaks as we watch this story unfold,” Garrison said. “Our sincere sympathy for him and his family. We all condemn these actions.”
President Joe Biden also spoke out against police brutality, particularly against “Black and Brown Americans” and called for a more just legal system. However, he also called on protestors to remain peaceful despite the outrage they feel.
“Those who seek justice should not … resort to violence or destruction,” Biden said. “Violence is never acceptable; it is illegal and destructive. I join Mr. Nichols’ family in calling for peaceful protest.”