MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Below, are a collection of statements from Tennessee local officials and organizations regarding the release of the video in Tyre Nichols’ death.
Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley said the following in a statement on Jan. 28:
“The officer who tased Tyre Nichols and who compelled the other officers to stomp him must be fired. We must put an end to the culture that allows excessive force and assumes it is commonplace.”
The National Civil Rights Museum said the following:
Watching the horrible circumstances that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death is hard to stomach. It’s never okay to normalize the beating of Black bodies, regardless of the aggressor. It is understandable to feel outraged. We can be both emotional and strategic to realize the better world we want to see.
The National Civil Rights Museum is listening and believing, so unheard voices do not have to resort to violence. We encourage responsible civil disobedience so that transformative actions lead to justice for Tyre Nichols and the thousands of others like him.
The world is watching Memphis. Our community can set precedence for swift, effective action toward justice, but we know a lot more needs to be done. While due process takes time, we know “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
We must remain vigilant, keep unity in our community, and continue to hold our officials – and each other – accountable. It will take a collaborative effort by a broad spectrum of citizens from many disciplines, industries, and roles to root out the causes at a systemic level.
We stand ready to be a vehicle toward understanding. This is part of the message expressed daily within our museum walls as we tell stories of a centuries-long fight for civil rights. As a site of conscience and a safe space to inspire action for positive social change, it is part of our mission to respond humanely with our eyes toward solutions.
The National Civil Rights Museum is in it for the long haul so the kind of transformative, equal justice we all deserve now can happen. There’s always a tipping point, so staying ready with viable, sustainable strategies is critical.
We stand with the family of Tyre Nichols and our Memphis community until justice is served.
I share this statement to assure our community that we are with you during this troubling time and share the responsibility of seeking justice, respect, and humanity for all citizens.
Former President Barack Obama said the following:
The vicious, unjustified beating of Tyre Nichols and his ultimate death at the hands of five Memphis police officers is just the latest, painful reminder of how far America still has to go in fixing how we police our streets. Along with mourning Tyre and supporting his family, it’s up to all of us to mobilize for lasting change.
The following statement has been provided by Blake Ballin, who is representing Desmond Mills, Jr.:
The videos released on January 27 have produced as many questions as they have answers. The question of whether this city would react to these videos and mourn with Tyre Nichols’s family in a peaceful way has been answered.
Some of the questions that remain will require a focus on Desmond Mills’s individual actions; on what Desmond knew and what he was able to see when he arrived late to the scene; on what Desmond knew and what he was able to see after he was pepper sprayed; and on whether Desmond’s actions crossed the lines that were crossed by other officers during this incident.
We continue to urge caution and patience in judging Desmond Mills’s actions. We are confident that the questions of whether Desmond crossed the lines that others crossed and whether he committed the crimes charged will be answered with a resounding no.
Vice President Kamala Harris posted the following statement:
Tyre Nichols should have made it home to his family. Yet, once again, America mourns the life of a son and father brutally cut short at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. The footage and images released tonight will forever be seared into our memories, and they open wounds that will never fully heal.
The persistent issue of police misconduct and use of excessive force in America must end now.
I join President Biden in his call for accountability and transparency. We must build trust – not fear- within our communities.
Congress must act with urgency and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. TO truly honor Tyre Nichols’ memory, and the memory of so many before him, we must demand that our justice system lives up to its name.
Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner released the following:
Having watched the videotape for the first time tonight, I have concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols. I have launched an internal investigation into the conduct of these deputies to determine what occurred and if any policies were violated. Both of these deputies have been relieved of duty pending the outcome of this administrative investigation.
Mayor Jim Strickland posted the following statement and accompanying video:
“Since learning of this tragic event, transparency and swift methodical action have been our top priorities because the family of Mr. Nichols and our citizens deserve nothing less. The actions of these officers were awful, and no one, including law enforcement, is above the law. I assure you we will do everything we can to keep this type of heinous act from happening again.
In this case, I want to thank Chief Davis and her team for moving quickly with the administrative procedure resulting in termination and District Attorney Mulroy for taking deliberate actions in bringing these indictments forward. We have worked to get a resolution to these matters in record time because we take them extremely seriously.
As we have said all along, we wanted to ensure the proper legal steps were followed and that the family of Mr. Nichols had the opportunity to view the video footage privately before we released it to the public. In light of those matters occurring, we will be releasing the video to the public sometime Friday after 6pm.
It is clear that these officers violated the department’s policies and training. But we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again. We are initiating an outside, independent review of the training, policies, and operations of our specialized units.
Lastly, I am sad and angry for the family of Tyre Nichols. I am also angry for the many good men and women of the Memphis Police Department who devote their lives to serving our citizens. We must all work to regain the public’s trust and work together to heal the wounds these events have caused.
District Attorney Steve Mulroy provided the following statement:
The City of Memphis has now released the video documenting the tragic murder of Tyre Nichols. I know the Shelby County community, and the nation, are feeling both the outrage and the deep pain that comes with witnessing these acts of violence.
We know the family and community are in mourning. And we recognize and understand the right to public protest, but both we and Tyre’s family ask that any demonstrations in response to the video be peaceful.
The video was released because it was important to the community and to Tyre’s family, as they want the world to be their witness and feel their pain. But as we witness the tragic end of Tyre’s life, I also urge you to remember Tyre Nichols as his family does: with his big smile, skateboarding, and being a loving family member.
The release was delayed because it was important to make sure witnesses spoke first from their memory and nothing else. As D.A., I have always sought to balance out the rightful demands of the community with protecting the integrity of our investigation and prosecution.
It’s my hope that this tragedy can lead to a broader conversation on police reform. Memphis has a number of local community groups and I urge you to support them in their social justice efforts. We also commit to partnering with them and doing whatever we can with our resources to help our community heal.
While nothing we do can bring Tyre back, we promise you that we are doing all we can to ensure that Tyre’s family, and our city of Memphis, see justice for Tyre Nichols.
The Memphis NAACP posted the following statement:
We are gratified to hear that the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office charged five former officers with second-degree murder following the tragic and brutal death of Tyre Nichols. No one should be viciously beaten to death over an alleged traffic violation. The officers’ actions were despicable, excessive, callous and unjustified. We hope that justice prevails.” -Memphis Branch NAACP President Van Turner said.
“Although we are pleased that the charges have been filed, we strongly urge the U.S. Department of Justice to continue its investigation. The accused former officers were reportedly members of the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods (“SCORPION”) Unit. The Memphis Police Department and its SCORPION Unit must be thoroughly investigated and monitored to ensure that all police officers abide by the law. We expect the police to enforce the law, not violate the law. We seek accountability and justice.” -Tennessee State Conference President Gloria Sweet Love said.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Matt Perry said the following:
As the Colonel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, I feel that I must come forward and stand with the family of Tyre Nichols publicly. I understand the anger and hurt that the public is feeling in response to the tragedy. I feel it too. We are a community, state and nation of laws where everyone is guaranteed the right to live their lives freely and in the pursuit of happiness.
What Tyre experienced at the hands of these individuals was not, in any way, an act of law enforcement, and we must demand justice and accountability. No one can defend the acts imposed upon Tyre at the hands of those men. They are appalling and unacceptable.
This was a heinous incident that we in the law enforcement profession must condemn and work tirelessly to make sure never happens again to any other person. I know that Chief Davis finds the actions of these individuals reprehensible. She took swift action to terminate their employment and is fully cooperating with efforts to bring criminal charges against them.
THP leadership has worked diligently over the years to ensure that our troopers are respectful, professional, and loyal to their oath to serve and protect. We are committed to continuing that mission.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol stands ready to assist the city and citizens of Memphis in any way we can.
Congressman Stephen Cohen (TN-09) said the following:
“It is overwhelming to watch. It’s clear that Tyre Nichols died because of the brutality and callous disregard, really an appalling lack of humanity, of the Memphis police officers. From the first encounter with the police, it’s clear this was about ego. There was no respect for Tyre Nichols and no answer to his simple question asking what he’d done. They were not there to serve and protect, or even to apprehend; they were there to punish and dominate. Early in the video of the first interaction, one of the officers can be heard saying ‘let’s give him a stomping,’ or ‘let’s stomp on him.’ That showed the mentality, and the other officers seem to embrace it and then go to it.
“After Tyre Nichols fled, there was no effort to de-escalate and calm the situation. Instead, the ‘pack’ mentality of these officers was about inflicting vengeance with no regard for Tyre as a human being. With Tyre on the ground, one officer punched him two or three times in the head, another kicked him repeatedly in the head for no reason, and another struck him again and again with a baton. When Tyre was obviously terribly hurt, they leaned him against a car and left him while they chatted and sometimes even laughed. They were apathetic and callous about his injuries. They were in no hurry to render aid to the man they had beaten. They were more interested in themselves. This includes not only the officers charged so far but the other officers on the scene who rendered no aid to a grievously injured man as he lay handcuffed on the ground.
“Tyre should be at home right now with his family, he should be having dinner with his Mother, he should be skateboarding. Instead, these ‘police officers’ took everything from him. The charges are appropriate. Justice for Tyre.”
President Joe Biden released the following statement:
Like so many, I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death. It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day.
My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’ family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss. The footage that was released this evening will leave people justifiably outraged. Those who seek justice should not to resort to violence or destruction. Violence is never acceptable; it is illegal and destructive. I join Mr. Nichols’ family in calling for peaceful protest.
I spoke with RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, Mr. Nichols’ mother and stepfather, this afternoon. There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a beloved child and young father. Nothing can bring Mr. Nichols back to his family and the Memphis community. But Mr. and Mrs. Wells, Mr. Nichols’ son, and his whole family deserve a swift, full, and transparent investigation.
We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all. Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. That is why I called on Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to my desk. When Senate Republicans blocked that bill, I signed an executive order that mandated stricter use of force standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local level.
The National Basketball Player’s Association released this statement:
Our players mourn the loss of Tyre Nichols and extend our deepest sympathies and condolence to the Nichols family during this difficult time.
Our hearts go out to the entire Memphis community as they are processing and dealing with this horrible tragedy, and we stand by the rightful arrest of all officers involved. Such aggressive policing and excessive force illustrate the continued need for accountability in the justice system.
We will continue to monitor the investigation and legal proceedings in search of justice for Tyre and his family.
The Memphis Grizzlies provided the following statement:
We are distraught to find ourselves dealing with a needles loss of life due to police brutality, and this time it was one of Memphis’s own. We’re thinking of the Nichols family and friends, and share the pain being felt throughout our community. So, let’s support each other and respect our fellow Memphians [who] are coping. We have faith in this city and our power to heal. To the Nichols family and friends, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences for your loss.
Paul Young, President, Downtown Memphis Commission provided the following statement:
“Today, we grieve as one community. Not black. Not white. Not defined by neighborhood. We stand together as one.
We echo the words of our Mayor, Jim Strickland, and MPD Chief Davis as we acknowledge the transparency and swiftness of the actions taken with those involved and express our heartbreak for Tyre Nichols, his family, and loved ones.
We know the next hours will bring more grieving as the footage is released. The family of Tyre Nichols has asked for peace, and we reiterate this. We pray for peace, continued justice, and healing for our city.”