Ahead of the release of the video of five Memphis officers’ assault of now-deceased 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, the African American Mayors Association released a statement to The SOURCE.
The statement reads:
The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is heartbroken by the tragic and brutal death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five Memphis police officers. We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Nichols and the entire Memphis community as they search for peace and justice for the senseless loss of this young, Black man.
“In this nation, a routine traffic stop should not be a death sentence, but tragically that was the case for Tyre Nichols. As a Black man and a Mayor, my heart aches for the Memphis community as they seek healing, answers, and accountability from those charged to protect not harm them,” said AAMA President and Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. “We are heartened by the swift termination and arrest of the officers involved, but that’s not enough. We join with the family of Mr. Nichols and the people of Memphis in calling for a transparent and just investigation to ease their understandable pain and restore public trust.”
With the public release of footage showing the violent beating of Tyre Nichols, AAMA continues to push for meaningful reforms to prevent police brutality by any officer and rebuild faith in those called to serve our communities. Further, we call for peaceful protests as we continue to work towards what Dr. King called the moral arc of justice.
The five Memphis police officers have been fired and charged with the murder of Nichols. Nichols was pulled over by officers on Jan. 7 and died shortly after the encounter.
The fired officers are Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith. They are all in Shelby County Jail for participating in the incident leading to Nichols’ death.
The Daily News notes Martin, Smith, and Bean received charges of second-degree murder, three counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, and one count of acting in concert to commit aggravated assault. Mills and Haley also received second-degree murder charges, along with two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression, and one count of acting in concert to commit aggravated assault.
“The breadth and the depth of the charges announced today speaks to the deliberate and thorough investigation this case has received,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director David Rausch said. “And our work is not finished. We continue to pursue every lead. Justice demands it.”
Video of the incident is set to be released Friday (Jan. 27). Ahead of the release, USA Today notes President Joe Biden has called for peaceful protests in advance, while the city of Memphis has called off all after-school activities.
After the traffic stop, Nichols was hospitalized in critical condition, ultimately dying three days later. The Nichols family and their representing attorneys have seen parts of the footage detailing Nichols was beaten by the arresting officers for several minutes.
Speaking at a candlelight vigil, Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, warned what was to come and asked for peace.
“I don’t want us burning up our city, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” she said. “If you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully. You can get your point across but we don’t need to tear up our cities, people, because we do have to live in them.”
FBI Director Chris Wray, who also saw the video, called it “appalling.”
Ahead of the release, Mills and Martin have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Nichols was pulled over on the night of Jan. 7 on suspicion of reckless driving. After an initial “confrontation,” Nichols ran but was arrested, leading to another “confrontation.” Nichols was hospitalized in critical condition after complaining of shortness of breath.
The family’s attorneys, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci released a joint statement detailing Nichols “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”