With officers on standby for possible protests in response to the release of graphic video depicting the fatal beating of a 29-year-old Black man by five Memphis, Tennessee, police officers, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Southland law enforcement officials on Friday, Jan. 27 universally condemned the chilling images.
Bass issued a statement saying her heart “aches for Tyre’s family and all who loved him.”
“Our country has a problem that we cannot run away from — we must confront it,”Bass said. “All communities deserve police that will always protect them. It is commendable that the Police Chief and officials in Memphis fired, arrested and filed murder charges against these officers. True justice, however, is not a guilty verdict. True justice would be Tyre being alive today. As the people of Los Angeles process and react to this horrific killing, we must move with purpose and peace.”
“The grotesque actions I watched in the video were incredibly disturbing, cruel and inhumane,” Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said in a statement. “To witness former Memphis police officers engaged in such unjustified and excessive force at the expense of Tyre Nichols’ life angers me as a police officer, as an American.
“This behavior goes against every principle of the law enforcement profession and is in direct contradiction to the dedication and sacrifice of the vast majority of our members who strive to protect and serve. The violation of trust tarnishes our badge and has a caustic effect on the public’s trust.”
Long Beach police Chief Wally Hebeish called the video “disturbing and appalling.”
“As a profession, we are required to de-escalate situations, intervene when necessary and strive to find peaceful resolutions to incidents,” Hebeish said. “The actions depicted in the video of the former Memphis police officers are intolerable”
The disturbing video depicts a Jan. 7 traffic stop in Memphis that led to the death in a hospital three days later of Tyre Nichols. Five Black police officers allegedly involved in the confrontation and beating of Nichols were fired last week, and all were charged this week with second-degree murder and other offenses.
The video shows the officers repeatedly beating the man, even as he is on the ground. Toward the end, Nichols is heard screaming for his mother.
VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES AND PROFANITY
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Nichols’ family and also represented George Floyd’s family, has hailed Memphis officials for acting swiftly to fire the officers involved and charge them with murder. But he compared the video of Nichols’ beating to that of King.
“Regrettably, it reminded us of (the) Rodney King video,” Crump said. “Regrettably, unlike Rodney King, Tyre didn’t survive.”
The 1991 LAPD beating of Rodney King led to an overhauling of LAPD management and ultimately sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots that left more than 60 people dead and caused more than $1 billion in damage.
A group of community activists gathered in Leimert Park on Friday morning ahead of the video’s release, calling for peaceful protests, and urging residents to gather to watch the video “collectively as one.” Rodney King’s daughter, Lora Dene King, joined the group Friday afternoon to watch the video when it was released. Earlier in the day, she issued a statement decrying the police assault of Nichols as “extremely sickening.”
“We should not have to witness such things in this world over and over with a different name behind the hashtags,” she said.
“Watching these type of videos has become very disturbing. It triggers past beatings often in comparison to my father’s brutal 1991 beating with the LAPD. This is something I will never understand. I wish to send the family God’s Grace and mercy and strength to keep his legacy and good deeds alive as well. I am happy to know he (Nichols) loved skateboarding like my father. I hope his family find strength the most; in the days to come.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League — the union representing LAPD officers — issued a joint statement Friday night with the San Francisco Police Officers Association, San Jose Police Officers’ Association, and the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers blasting the actions of officers in the video.
“The killing of Tyre Nichols at the hands of the five cowardly former Memphis police officers is repugnant and the complete antithesis of how honorable law enforcement professionals conduct themselves every day,” the statement read. “These accused individuals were fired, charged with murder and other crimes, arrested, fingerprinted, photographed and jailed, just like any other suspected criminal. Their brutalization of Mr. Nichols was horrific and for his family to have to view the video of Tyre suffering through those evil acts is unfathomable. We pray that they find the strength to deal with this unmitigated loss.”
William Briggs, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, called the beating of Nichols “savage and unconscionable.’”
“The behavior of these officers must be condemned,” Briggs said. “Not just by members of the law enforcement community, but by all Americans. They will answer for their actions; their disregard for human life; their excessive use of force; their failure to intervene and render aide; their violation of the public’s trust”