‘Criminal assault under the pretext of law’: FOP president responds to Tyre Nichols arrest video

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis police released video footage of Tyre Nichols’ Jan. 7 arrest on Friday, which appears to show a brutal beating lasting several minutes. Nichols died several days after the attack, which started with a traffic stop.

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Patrick Yoes, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, released a statement Friday saying he was appalled by the brutal assault that led to Nichols’ death.

“The event as described to us does not constitute legitimate police work or a traffic stop gone wrong,” Yoes said. “This is a criminal assault under the pretext of law.”

Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after he was stopped by police just a short distance from his home in Memphis, Tennessee. The five officers blamed for being responsible for Nichols’ death were fired from the police department and have been booked into jail on several charges, including murder.

The attorney for one of the officers charged, Desmond Mills Jr., said in a statement: “Mr. Mills and I will review these videos together at the appropriate time. A thorough investigation of all available angles is needed before providing context or comment. My heart goes out to the Nichols family and the entire city of Memphis and we hope all will express themselves peacefully.”

The Shelby County Sheriff, Floyd Bonner, said in a statement on Friday night, “Having watched the videotape for the first time tonight, I have concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols. I have launched an internal investigation into the conduct of these deputies to determine what occurred and if any policies were violated. Both of these deputies have been relieved of duty pending the outcome of this administrative investigation.”

Amnesty International USA described the video as showing “truly appalling, heinous, violent and troublesome acts of inhumanity.” In a statement, the group called for the Memphis Police Department to “acknowledge this as a systemic issue and conduct a top-down review of their policies on issues such as the use of unmarked police cars to conduct traffic stops, training on foot pursuits and the use of force – including the use of chemical irritants, tasers and restraints.” The group also called for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act “to create a national standard on the use of force, which would require de-escalation by officers and limit the use of deadly force, which should be used as a last resort, not first response.”

Martin Luther King III responded to the video on Twitter, saying, “I am deeply disturbed by the video released by Memphis Police today. We all witnessed a horrific yet perversely familiar act committed by officers of the law. Everyone involved must be arrested & charged with the murder of Tyre Nichols. His family and our nation deserve justice.”

President Joe Biden said in a statement, “My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’ family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss. There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a beloved child and young father.” Biden said he spoke with Nichols’ mother and stepfather on Friday afternoon.

The Memphis Grizzlies shared a statement on Twitter, saying, “We are distraught to find ourselves dealing with a needless loss of life due to police brutality, and this time it was one of Memphis’s own. We’re thinking of the Nichols family and friends, and share the pain being felt throughout our community. So, let’s support each other and respect how our fellow Memphians are coping. We have faith in this city and our power to heal.”

Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said on Twitter, “To the Nichols family, my teammates and I are and have been paying attention. We are with you. To Memphis, we are hurting, too. Peaceful protest, supporting the family, pushing for accountability are what’s needed in this moment.”

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