MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — President Joe Biden was among the national, state and local officials sounding off after five Memphis police officers were indicted on multiple charges, including second-degree murder, for their involvement in the death of Tyre Nichols.
Wednesday night, Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis released a video statement, calling Nichols’ death “heinous, reckless, and inhumane.”
Attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, who are representing Tyre Nichols’ family, released a joint statement Thursday afternoon.
“The news today from Memphis officials that these five officers are being held criminally accountable for their deadly and brutal actions gives us hope as we continue to push for justice for Tyre. This young man lost his life in a particularly disgusting manner that points to the desperate need for change and reform to ensure this violence stops occurring during low-threat procedures, like in this case, a traffic stop. This tragedy meets the absolute definition of a needless and unnecessary death. Tyre’s loved ones’ lives were forever changed when he was beaten to death, and we will keep saying his name until justice is served.”
Kareem Ail with Crump’s legal team also reacted to the news of the officer’s arrest, saying:
“The charges that have been brought today, those charges give us hope that a full justice in the matter of Tyre Nichols will be served in this process. The family and the legal team are satisfied unless something else changes. There are other officers still under investigation that had engagement and involvement in the murder of Tyre. We’re processing it all to make sure full and complete justice is served.”
Read the statements from officials below. WREG will update this story as more statements are released.
President Joe Biden
“Jill and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols and the entire Memphis community. Tyre’s family deserves a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his death.
As Americans grieve, the Department of Justice conducts its investigation, and state authorities continue their work, I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest. Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable. Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.
Public trust is the foundation of public safety and there are still too many places in America today where the bonds of trust are frayed or broken. 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.
We also cannot ignore the fact that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted Black and Brown people.
To deliver real change, we must have accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths, and we need to build lasting trust between law enforcement, the vast majority of whom wear the badge honorably, and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect.
That is why I called on Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to my desk. When they didn’t, I signed an executive order that included stricter use of force standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local level.
Today, we all must re-commit ourselves to the critical work that must be done to advance meaningful reforms.”
► Continuing coverage of Tyre Nichols Investigation
TBI Director David Rausch
“First – and most importantly – on behalf of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Tyre Nichols. We can’t imagine the pain you’re experiencing, but let me reaffirm: We are here to pursue truth and justice, realizing that we should not be here. Simply put, this shouldn’t have happened.
I’ve been in policing for more than 30 years. I’ve devoted my life to this profession and I’m grieved – and frankly, I’m sickened – by what we’ve learned through our extensive investigation. I’ve seen the video, and you will, too. In a word, it’s appalling. Let me be clear: What happened here does not, at all, reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was a crime.
The depth and breadth of the charges announced today speaks to the deliberate and thorough investigation this case has received. And our work is not finished. We continue to pursue every lead. Justice demands it. And our agency exists so ‘that guilt shall not escape, nor innocence suffer.’
To that end, I want to publicly thank our agents, forensic scientists, support staff, and our entire team – across the state – who worked diligently to expedite this case. We’ve worked as hard as we could – and as quickly as we could – to provide a thorough, independent, and unbiased investigative record to allow DA Mulroy to make the most informed decision he could regarding charges. I also want to thank the Memphis Police Department and city leaders for the cooperation in this case, which – I want to stress – remains ongoing at this time.”
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris
“I grieve with the family of Tyre Nichols. This family lost their beloved son too soon. As a community, I know we can confront prejudice and work together to build a more just and humane system. While the investigation into Mr. Nichols’ death continues, I support the release of the video as soon as possible.”
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland
“Since learning of this tragic event, transparency and swift methodical action have been our top priorities because the family of Mr. Nichols and our citizens deserve nothing less. The actions of these officers were awful, and no one, including law enforcement, is above the law. I assure you we will do everything we can to keep this type of heinous act from happening again.
In this case, I want to thank Chief Davis and her team for moving quickly with the administrative procedure resulting in termination and District Attorney Mulroy for taking deliberate actions in bringing these indictments forward. We have worked to get a resolution to these matters in record time because we take them extremely seriously.
As we have said all along, we wanted to ensure the proper legal steps were followed and that the family of Mr. Nichols had the opportunity to view the video footage privately before we released it to the public. In light of those matters occurring, we will be releasing the video to the public sometime Friday after 6pm.
It is clear that these officers violated the department’s policies and training. But we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again. We are initiating an outside, independent review ofthe training, policies, and operations of our specialized units.
Lastly, I am sad and angry for the family of Tyre Nichols. I am also angry for the many good men and women of the Memphis Police Department who devote their lives to serving our citizens. We must all work to regain the public’s trust and work together to heal the wounds these events have caused.”
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
“Cruel, criminal abuse of power will not be tolerated in the state of Tennessee. These individuals do not represent the honorable men & women of law enforcement, & they must be brought to justice for this tragic loss of life.
The City of Memphis & the Memphis Police Department need to take a hard look at the misconduct & failure that has occurred within this unit. I discussed this with Mayor Strickland & am pleased the city is pursuing an external, impartial investigation.
Maria & I are praying for Tyre Nichols’ family, & we ask that God bring peace, healing & justice to the Memphis community in these difficult days.”
Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Memphis)
“Right now, much of the national media is looking at Memphis as there was an awful killing of a 29-year-old African American man by five police officers within the last few weeks. The five police officers have been fired by the Police Department for violating their oaths…It could be a situation where people want to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest actions of the Police Department, and people should. But they should be peaceful and calm.
We have a new D.A. We have a new U.S. Attorney. And we have a new Police Director. They are the right people at the right time to bring about reform and to deal with this case to see that justice is rendered.
I grieve for the life of Tyre Nichols, whose life should not have been extinguished. He was an outstanding young man and it’s extremely sad that he was killed.
I pray for my city.”
Congressman Cohen also released a video statement on Twitter.
State Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis)
“While I applaud the swift action of the district attorney, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Memphis Police Department, there is no justice for Tyre Nichols today.
Justice would be Tyre living to see his next birthday. Justice is people in this community having trust that our police officers will first police themselves. No one should fear for their life during a simple traffic stop or be afraid to even engage with our officers.
So instead, today we begin the long act of healing our hurting community, Tyre’s mother and family, and ourselves.
We cannot move forward together unless we are willing to do the work to hold our police department to the highest ethical standards and uproot any existence or acceptance of police brutality. This is our call to action and we must be vigilant.”
State Senator London Lamar, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus
“Like many of us, I feel traumatized by Tyre Nichols’ death and I am disturbed by the actions of the officers who were involved.
While today we send our heartfelt condolences to the Nichols family, tomorrow we work toward achieving continuous accountability for law enforcement.
This may be the most egregious act of police brutality in our nation’s history. It shows exactly how much work we have to do to build trust between our people and the officers who pledge to serve and protect our community.
Accountability for the officers involved in Tyre’s death is the first step. The next step is for law enforcement, state and federal officials, and local leaders to investigate why this happened. We have to fix the root causes of police brutality and then do the work to make sure it never happens again.”
State Representative Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis)
“While seeing our justice system at work with the charging of the five officers involved in the death of #TyreNichols, we must continue to keep the family of Tyre Nichols lifted in prayer. These are the beginning stages of what will be a long and arduous journey for them and for our city. There is no good that can come out of this tragic situation. Unless there is a way to bring Tyre back, justice is limited to what it is supposed to do and that is find, try and convict those responsible for taking the life of Tyre.”
Tami Sawyer, Former Shelby County Commissioner
“#TyreNichols is not a singular occurrence in Memphis. Please don’t go back to business as usual just because the officers were charged. We still pay Connor Schilling’s pension even though he murdered Darrius Stewart. MPD has resisted meaningful reform and will continue to do so.
MPD has resisted meaningful reform and will continue to do so unless we collectively demand it. They over recruit and under train. They’re putting new officers on the street with the swiftness of an Amazon or FedEx and training as worthwhile as a bitcoin at 7-11.
These are the first officers ever charged in Memphis in recent memory for abuse or death and if Tyre hadn’t died and just been hurt they probably would have gotten away with it. Like they did with Martavius Banks. Because he lived, they walked and out HIM in jail when he healed.”
Councilwoman Rhonda Logan, Chair of Memphis City Council Public Safety Committee
“I’d like to share my deepest condolences, love, and prayers of comfort to the family and loved ones of Mr. Tyre Nichols. The death of Mr. Tyre Nichols has been deeply felt and particularly painful because it was in every way heinous. It was inhumane and, in my view, absolutely a crime.
At the City Council Public Safety Committee meeting on January 24, 2023, I opened with a prayer for Mr. Nichols family and shared that I ‘…hope there will be an opportunity for open dialogue within the next few weeks once the investigation has concluded.’ There are many unanswered questions, as well as new information we are learning about this case every day. As the Public Safety Chair, I have not received any additional information from the Memphis Police Department or other law enforcement agency that has not been shared with the public.
I want to assure members of the public that as Chair of the Public Safety Committee, I am committed to holding public conversations with Memphis Police and Memphis Fire leadership about the failings of this tragic event. We will consider any and all legislation proposed by the City Council and, or Administration that could aid in the prevention of any other tragedy such as this one; we will increase regular reporting and transparency with the public, as well as continue to urge community policing.
As a Council member elected to represent the citizens, that has and will continue to include Tyre Nichols.”
Tyre Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after he was severely injured by Memphis Police officers during a traffic stop on Jan. 7.
Former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith were terminated last Friday.
Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy immediately asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent investigation into the use of force by Memphis police officers.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice also opened a civil rights investigation into Nichols’ death on Jan. 18.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Matt Perry
“As the Colonel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, I feel that I must come forward and stand with the family of Tyre Nichols publicly. I understand the anger and hurt that the public is feeling in response to this tragedy. I feel it too. We are a community, state, and nation of laws where everyone is guaranteed the right to live their lives freely and in the pursuit of happiness. What Tyre experienced at the hands of these individuals are not, in any way, an act of law enforcement, and we must demand justice and accountability. No one can defend the acts imposed upon Tyre at the hands of those men. They are appalling and unacceptable. This was a heinous incident that we in the law enforcement profession must condemn and work tirelessly to make sure never happens to any other person. I know that Chief Davis finds the actions of these individuals reprehensible. She took swift action to terminate their employment and is fully cooperating with efforts to bring criminal charges against them. THP leadership has worked diligently over the years to ensure that our troopers are respectful, professional, and loyal to their oath to serve and protect. We are committed to continuing that mission. The Tennessee Highway Patrol stands ready to assist the city and citizens of Memphis in any way we can.”
NAACP Memphis Branch President Van Turner
“We are gratified to hear that the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office charged five former officers with second-degree murder following the tragic and brutal death of Tyre Nichols. No one should be viciously beaten to death over an alleged traffic violation. The officers’ actions were despicable, excessive, callous and unjustified. We hope that justice prevails.”
Tennessee State Council President Gloria Sweet Love
“Although we are pleased that the charges have been filed, we strongly urge the U.S. Department of Justice to continue its investigation. The accused former officers were reportedly members of the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods (“SCORPION”) Unit. The Memphis Police Department and its SCORPION Unit must be thoroughly investigated and monitored to ensure that all police officers abide by the law. We expect the police to enforce the law, not violate the law. We seek accountability and justice.”
► Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Chief CJ Davis will be guests on WREG’s “Live At 9” at 9 a.m. (CT) on News Channel 3 for their first local interview following the indictment of five Memphis officers.