Tyre Nichols’ family call for ‘long overdue’ reforms to US policing

Ben Crump and RowVaughn Wells - Scott Olson/Getty Images
Ben Crump and RowVaughn Wells - Scott Olson/Getty Images

The family of Tyre Nichols, the black man who died after being brutally beaten by Memphis police officers, have led renewed calls for far-reaching reforms to US policing.

Mr Nichols, 29, is the latest high-profile example of police using excessive force against black people and other minorities.

Calls for reform to US law enforcement were reinvigorated after 67 minutes of footage was released showing how Mr Nichols was kicked and punched by five Memphis police officers during a routine traffic stop.

The officers, who are all black, have been sacked and charged with second-degree murder and the Scorpion police unit, to which they belonged, has been disbanded.

A Bill introduced in February 2021 in response to the murder of George Floyd, whose death after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes kicked off a nationwide protest movement, has stalled in the Senate, despite clearing the House of Representatives.

On Sunday, Ben Crump, the lawyer representing the Nichols family, said reform was long overdue.

“Shame on us if we don’t use his tragic death to finally get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed,” he told CNN.

Speaking to ABC, Mr Crump said the fact that the police officers accused of killing Mr Nichols were black was irrelevant.

“It is not the race of the police officer that is the determining factor, whether they’re going to engage in excessive use of force, but it is the race of the citizen, and oftentimes, it is the black and brown citizens that bear the brunt of the brutality,” he said.

“You don’t see videos about our white brothers and sisters who are unarmed having this type of excessive force levied against them,” he added.

Mr Nichols’ mother has spoken to Joe Biden to press the case for reform.

The Congressional Black Caucus in Washington has called for a meeting with the US president to discuss legislation.

Mr Biden, who said he was “outraged and deeply pained” by the footage, has urged Congress to pass the act.

Democratic congressman and caucus chairman, Steven Horsford, added: “The brutal beating of Tyre Nichols was murder and is a grim reminder that we still have a long way to go in solving systemic police violence in America.”

Politicians across the spectrum united in condemning police conduct in Memphis.

“I thought it was terrible,” Mr Trump said on Saturday. “He was in such trouble. He was just being pummelled. Now that should never have happened.”

Republican congressman Jim Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, added: “These five individuals did not have any respect for life. And again, I don’t think these five guys represent the vast, vast majority of law enforcement. But I don’t know if there’s anything you can do to stop the kind of evil we saw in that video.”

Policing experts voiced horror at what the video revealed.

“I’ve seen police at its best and worst. What I saw in the video was shocking and appalling… as a career law enforcement officer, I could not believe what I was seeing,” former Orlando police chief and Democrat member of Congress Val Demings told Face the Nation.

Protesters took to the streets again on Sunday to demand change.

The demonstrations were peaceful, with police chiefs in Memphis having largely defused tension in the city by swiftly sacking and arresting the officers involved.

“Just growing up here, this is not really new to us. It’s new to us being on this magnitude,” said Memphis protester, George Brooks.

“But this is an issue we’re tired of seeing.”