ARIZONA, USA — Memphis authorities released more than an hour of footage Friday of the violent beating of Tyre Nichols in which officers held the Black motorist down and struck him repeatedly as he screamed for his mother.
The video emerged one day after the officers, who are all Black, were charged with murder in Nichols' death.
The footage shows police savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes while screaming profanities throughout the attack. The Nichols family legal team has likened the assault to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.
On Friday, 12News Anchor/Reporter Jonathan McCall met with community leaders to have a frank discussion on policing in America.
"They stripped him of his dignity. They stripped him of the person that he was to his mother," says Janelle Wood, founder of Black Mother's Forum.
Wood was among community leaders sharing her thoughts after the video's release.
Also joining the conversation was Dr. Warren Stewart, Senior Pastor of First Institutional Church of Phoenix.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Taylor and Bernard Zapor a professor at Arizona State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
"I think the most concerning thing is that these officers lack experience, says Zapor.
"2.5 years on average and they're in the street crime unit," he adds.
This case wreaked of ego and it had ego all over it. There was a personalization of their actions. There was a failure of street leadership outside of what was happening and they did not stop it," Zapor says.
When asked what should law enforcement agencies across Arizona and the country be looking to do now in wake of Nichol's video, Stewart added this.
"To change the police culture that gives them the idea that whatever they want to do whether they get caught or not. We have a black man being arrested by black police officers and yet he still ran from them. Why? Because there was a fear that he couldn't even trust police officers of his own color," he says.
"Hopefully they're going back to do some retraining, bring in some resources that are going to help officers," says Zapor.
"Watching this incident the main thing is de-escalation. There was no need for repeated kicking, the repeated grabbing, the repeated punching,' says Taylor.
Taylor applauded Memphis investigators for their swift work.
After hearing a statement from law enforcement agencies in the valley condemning the actions in Memphis, Taylor responded by saying "It does take a lot of courage and commitment, but this shouldn't be abnormal. This should be a normal thing that police chiefs and prosecutors should be doing no matter the color or race."
Stewart also questioned if race may have been a factor in the arrests of the officers. "How did happen so quickly when there were five black officers in the case with a black victim, but not in other instances?"
"I'm glad the police department fired these police officers quickly. It's very rare that officers hardly ever get charged in these cases. I think the prosecutors made the right decision to charge them," says Taylor.
"This case was a no-brainer," says Zapor.
"There are other cases where everyone has a right to due process. There's an administrative process there are times when you have justified use of force that sounds and seems horrific from the outside and then it's investigated, and then you find out it's justified, unfortunate and professionally executed. I think the video in Nichol's case was so clear that they were not enforcing the law, but also committing a felony," says Zapor.
Discussions also covered use-of-force cases currently in the city of Phoenix and solutions that can be done to help with relationships between police and law enforcement.
"All police officers are not bad. We are not anti-police. We are anti-police brutality," says Woods.
"When I see the inhumanity some officers treat people, I question if those officers have lost their humanity along the way," she adds.
Zapor says it's a dismal time for law enforcement as agencies deal with shortages, and officers are asked to do more with less. "Law enforcement is retiring and hiring is not taking place and budget cuts are happening. The training is going to be less. The quality of the candidate is going to be less."
Numerous Arizona officials reacted after the video's release. Here's a look at some of their reactions:
Governor Katie Hobbs:
“There are no words when these unnecessary and unjust deaths occur at the hands of law enforcement, and I share in the outrage and horror that is felt. Tyre Nichols was a 29-year-old father and he deserved to grow old and watch his child grow up. I send my deep condolences to his family and the Memphis community at this time. We need accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths, and we need to restore the public’s trust in the institution. I’m committed to solutions that center public safety and take a holistic approach to the community safety interventions available to address crime and people in need of help. As we respond to the police footage, I want to echo the call of Tyre’s mother for protests to remain peaceful.”
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone:
“This event depicts the worst in human behavior and abuse by law enforcement. I have the utmost respect for Chief Davis’ honesty. I believe all law enforcement leaders should have the courage and commitment when addressing any type of police brutality in our communities.”
Interim Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan:
I am deeply troubled by the circumstances surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols. Quite frankly, what is seen on the video released is infuriating and offensive to the noble profession I love. I condemn the actions of those responsible. One of the core principles of policing is respecting the sanctity of life. The actions of those individuals go against that principle as well as the culture, training and values instilled in law enforcement officers.
I understand that trust is the foundation of policing and we work hard every day to cultivate and maintain that trust. It saddens me that again, the actions of a few, have the capacity to cast a broad negative brush on the law enforcement profession.
I am proud to lead the members of this department who put their lives on the line everyday as they strive to protect the community they serve with pride and dignity. I commit to pushing our department to be a self-assessing, self-correcting agency with a strong process for accountability. I am grateful for the community’s partnership in maintaining a safe and vibrant city.
Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg:
Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police:
Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego:
Congressman Raul Grijalva:
Phoenix City Manager Jeff Barton:
As many across the nation have just done, I watched the horrific actions officers took against Tyre Nichols. It was challenging for me to watch -- specifically as a black man and a father of two young black sons. My heart grieves for Tyre’s family, and I am compelled to express my disgust towards the reprehensible actions of the officers.
As public servants, we must do more to prevent these tragedies from occurring. We must continue having difficult conversations and working alongside the community to build a future where everyone is treated with respect and decency.
As City Manager, I remain committed to holding City of Phoenix employees accountable to these basic principles. I commend the City of Memphis for their swift and decisive disciplinary measures to hold the officers involved accountable for their appalling actions.
Phoenix Law Enforcement Association:
"The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association has viewed the abhorrent and disturbing footage of five Memphis police officers violently assaulting Tyre Nichols resulting in his death. The behavior displayed in the video is not reflective of the ethics and standards we teach our police officers. We mourn the loss of Mr. Nichols and grieve with his family and the community tonight. These police officers must be held accountable for this senseless loss of life."
Reverend Jarrett Maupin:
“The death of Tyre Nichols is a tragedy that horrifically highlights the continuing problems with use of force and excessive force within police departments across the nation. Perhaps now, with such vivid disregard for the sanctity of human life caught on camera, policy makers from Congress to city councils will find the courage to demand new standards of decency and restraint in policing…
“Memphis, like Phoenix, must be scrutinized and held to account over the actions of its police force. The fact that 5 black officers killed a black man is irrelevant. Police brutality is not and never has been synonymous with race or racism. Police brutality has everything to do with the content of one’s character and nothing to do with color of one’s skin. Justice should be swift and thorough to set an example that will prevent such senseless and callous and wanton violence from happening in Memphis again. I have sent a letter in support of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s call for the U.S. Department of Justice to immediately intervene in this outrageous matter…
“To the general public, in Memphis and elsewhere, I urge activists to remain faithful to the tenants of non-violence. While protests will happen, and should, violence can never justify more violence. The path of civility and accountability will honor Tyre Nichols and help the civil rights movement to maintain the moral high ground as we push - all over the country - for a more perfect Union…
“Lastly, we pray for law enforcement and for communities all over America that are dealing with estrangement and hostility that stems from significant and historical system problems. Only with renewed trust between those endeavoring to do the most good can we expect to heal the nation. It is still a fact that the vast majority of Americans want to live in a nation of goodness. We pray that God heals the hurt of the Nichols family and that we learn from this moment of raw, uninhibited, unjustified rage to bring much-needed change to policing in America.”
Queen Creek Police Chief Randy Brice:
Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes
“What I saw in that video was not law enforcement. It was an abuse of power and position and an abandonment of responsibility and duty. Knowing that our ability to serve the community depends on their confidence and support, I find it necessary to point out the distinction between the good men and women who do this job the right way, and those who destroy the trust bestowed upon them. We cannot permit that distinction to be corrupted by staying silent and will never allow these heinous acts and behaviors to be rationalized or justified.”
Up to Speed
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.