Don’t resist the truth. Police brutality in America is a real problem.
Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old African American man, didn’t resist arrest. Still, he died three days after a traffic stop involving Memphis police officers.
He was calm and did as the officers instructed. The only thing cooler that fateful night was the concrete, which Nichols saw a lot of.
“You guys are really doing a lot now,” he said. “I’m just trying to go home.”
Author Michael Harriot tweeted: “If they say ‘get on the ground’ and you get on the ground, say ‘I’m on the ground’ and you STILL get tased and pepper sprayed. What else are you supposed to do but run? So much for that whole ‘if he only he had complied’ narrative.”
Nichols had been pulled over for alleged reckless driving but to date that charge remains unfounded. Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis says there was “no proof.”
In an interview with CNN, she said: “So, in an investigation, we begin to look at what was the probable cause for the stop? Where were the cameras? Was there some evidence on the body camera, on other cameras along those thoroughfares and we’ve taken a pretty extensive look to determine, you know, what that probable cause was, and we have not been able to substantiate that — it doesn’t mean that something didn’t happen, but there’s no proof.”
There is, of course, no reason for the fatal beating Nichols received at the hands of five Memphis police officers on January 7— all of whom were African American.
The officers were fired from the police department, and all five were charged with second-degree murder in addition to other felonious crimes. Two Memphis sheriff’s deputies were also suspended and are now under investigation.
In fact, as I am writing, a sixth officer has been relieved of duty. Preston Hemphill, a European American police officer, tased Nichols and gave a brief chase before returning to the scene of the first stop.
We don’t know what Nichols did wrong. But we do know that the officers were wrong to punch, kick, tase and strike an unarmed, 140-pound Nichols with a baton while in handcuffs.
He heard 71 commands in 13 minutes. Which one would you like him to obey?
I watched the video and, yes, it is traumatizing. Nichols cries out for his mother who is only 80 yards away.
Fight or flight, Nichols decided to run away. It is during the second confrontation that he is beaten mercilessly by police officers.
Nichols also happened to wind up right in front of a sky camera, which recorded a completely different story from what the police officers would later claim: that Nichols reached for their gun and seemed to be on drugs.
While there has been online speculation that this was done intentionally by Nichols who figured he was going to die and needed a second set of eyes to bear witness, the police officers seemed to be completely unaware of the sky camera.
Nichols was beaten for roughly three minutes without intervention, and the medical response has been called into question as they failed to render immediate aid. Nichol’s stepfather said, “They’re just as guilty.”
Again, there are calls to defund the police, which would mean reallocating funds from the police departments to support public safety efforts to include housing, education and health care.
“You can’t throw money at the problem,” some have argued. But the Biden administration increased the budget for community policing. So, why not “throw money” at our failing educational and health care systems?
“Police in America made 12 times as many arrests for low-level offenses as for violent crimes from 2013-2021,” according to policescorecard.com, which analyzes data from 13,147 police departments. “Most killings began with police responding to suspected non-violent offenses.”
In fact, some police experts say the bodycam footage showed that Nichols’ arrest was “rife with errors.” Despite increased funding, more training and the use of body cameras, police officers continue to kill Americans at an alarming rate.
Tyre Nichols’ death was so brutal that Americans were warned days before the video’s release.
“The way they are prepping mayors and police departments across the country for this Tyre Nichols is gross. They should be prepping them on how to treat their Black citizens like human beings instead of how to quench their righteous anger,” attorney and media personality Exavier Pope wrote on Twitter.
But Tyre Nichols wasn’t angry. He just wanted to go home, and we’ve got to be brutally honest about why he didn’t make it.