Absolute and justified rage could be felt in the newspaper stories from the Memphis Commerical Appeal over the past two weeks as the details of events surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols were reported. Today a bombshell landed that would have made the UPI teletype machine back in my radio broadcasting days send bells sounding as news of the five police officers involved in the traffic stop that precipitated Tyre Nichols’ death were charged with second-degree murder. The young man died January 10th, three days after a traffic stop near his mother’s home and after what Memphis Police called a “confrontation.”
But those who have viewed the police cam footage have a different perspective than it being a mere “confrontation’. Lawyers describe the video, which the public at some point will see as an “unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating” for three minutes, saying Nichols was allegedly treated like a “human piñata” by the officers.
The swift moves by the district attorney and legal system underscore the gravity and overwhelming evidence that points to depravity among these five officers, but also a lack of professionalism within the ranks of the Memphis Police Department. There is no way that five officers out of the blue (no pun intended) act in such a fashion, and in unison without there being a rot in the entire system that requires a top to bottom wholesale cleaning. This type of behavior did not just occur due to the alignment of planets or the lack of enough strength in morning coffee. The top brass of the police department must be addressed as Memphis seeks not only justice for Nichols, but also a complete understanding of how this monstrous crime could have ever happened.
Nichols “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to preliminary findings of an autopsy commissioned by his family after being stopped by officers on suspicion of reckless driving. Reports in the Appeal stated police wrote initially that a “confrontation occurred” as the officers approached his vehicle and that Nichols ran away. There was then “another confrontation” as the officers arrested him. For a traffic stop. No one should be murdered for a traffic stop.
In addition to the horrific murder of Nichols, I wish to add how much this hurts and unfairly defames police officers around the nation. While most police officers are not of the stripe found in Memphis and pictured above, they will still be viewed in a light that undercuts their authority and required necessity in our society. That is another reason a complete and immediate evaluation be made of the practices of the Memphis Police Department. The nation needs to see a reckoning of justice in this case.