5 offificers charged for death of Tyre Nichols


Maggie Eubanks, News Editor

Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old African American man from Memphis, Tennessee died in a hospital on Jan. 10 after being beaten by police three days earlier. The Memphis District Attorney charged all five officers involved in Nichols’ death with second-degree murder on Thursday.

Officers stated that they initially pulled Nichols over for “reckless driving” and pursued him on foot after he fled during an altercation. Each officer was fired on Jan. 20 after the investigation found they “violated department policy on the use of force.”

Nichols’ death sparked protests around the country, with many saying the officer’s actions have become an all-too-familiar sight. But most of the protests have remained peaceful at the urging of Nichols’ mother RowVaughn Wells, who said, “I don’t want us burning up cities, tearing up our streets, because that’s not what my son stood for.”

Some are calling attention to the fact that all five officers were African American, but according to one protester from New York, Chivona Newsome, their color doesn’t matter. “You put on a uniform, and what, you think they are brothers? No, they are the slave patrol,” Newsome said.

The officers charged worked for the Memphis Police Department for a period between two and six years. One of the officers, Demetrius Haley, has a history of excessive force. According to ABC News, when he was employed by the Shelby County Department of Corrections, an inmate filed a lawsuit against him for participating in a beating that knocked the inmate out. The suit was dismissed by a judge for clerical error.

Three of the officers posted bail, but two still remain in police custody. William Massey, an attorney for one of the indicted officers, released a statement Thursday afternoon. “No one out there that night intended for Tyre Nichols to die,” Massey said.

Regardless of the offifficers’ intentions, police brutality has only been increasing, according to The Washington Post. A total of 79 people in the U.S. have died in police custody or because of police action since the beginning of the year. These numbers are sobering, especially when considering the same study shows that African Americans are killed by police at a rate twice that of the rate in which white people are killed.

A video of the police encounter with Nichols was released Friday morning. Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis condemned the offifficers’ actions and asked the Memphis community to remain peaceful in their protests. “This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual,” Davis said. “This incident was heinous, reckless and inhumane.”

President Biden spoke to Nichols’ family Saturday morning after releasing an official statement earlier in the week. “Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment and dignity for all,” Biden said.

The protests sparked by Nichols’ death are a part of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement that occurred in 2020 after the death of George Floyd. In 2020, protests took place all over the globe, but right now, protests are only happening in cities across the U.S.

President Biden is calling upon lawmakers in Washington to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to his desk, saying it will force stricter standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as “measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local level.”

The five officers will await a formal hear- ing followed by a trial that will most likely take place later this year.