COLUMBUS, Ind. — Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop and local law enforcement officials on Tuesday said the brutal, fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers was an “unacceptable abuse of power” and an “despicable act toward another human being.”
The comments from local leaders came just days after Memphis authorities released video footage showing Nichols, a Black man and 29-year-old father, being beaten by five officers in early January who repeatedly strike him with their fists, boots and batons as he screams for his mother, The Associated Press reported.
The video shows Nichols was shocked, pepper-sprayed and restrained after he was pulled over minutes from his home while returning from a suburban park where he had taken photos of the sunset, according to wire reports.
The footage is filled with violent moments showing the officers, who are also Black, chasing and pummeling Nichols and leaving him on the pavement propped against a squad car as they fist-bump and celebrate their actions.
When it ends, Nichols is slumped against a car, according to wire reports. It would be more than 20 minutes before medical attention was rendered, though three members of the fire department arrived on the scene with medical equipment within 10 minutes. Nichols died from his injuries three days later.
The five officers have been charged with murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
Additionally, officials said Monday that two more Memphis police officers had been disciplined and three emergency responders fired in connection with Nichols’ death, widening the circle of punishment for the shocking display of police brutality.
“To know that this senseless loss of life came as it did by the hands of those sworn to protect and serve is an affront to all of us,” Lienhoop said Tuesday in a statement. “Many have come forward to condemn this act of violence. I wish to add my voice to that list. …As your mayor, I am thankful for the commitment of our local law enforcement to policing that emphasizes de-escalation, understanding of our community and a deeply felt commitment to the public it serves. The kind of violence that was directed toward Tyre is simply unacceptable.”
Lienhoop was joined by Columbus Police Chief Mike Richardson and Bartholomew County Sheriff Chris Lane in condemning Nichols’ killing.
Bartholomew County Sheriff Chris Lane
“It is disheartening to see the unacceptable abuse of power that is demonstrated in the video released on Friday,” Richardson said in the statement. “Watching it, I find myself bewildered at how this behavior could have occurred and continued as more police arrived. It was a failure every step of the way. As police, it is our duty to protect and serve every individual who lives in our communities, a duty we take seriously in Columbus. I want to assure you that our officers are committed to building strong relationships with the community and maintaining the trust you put in us every day by being as transparent as possible.”
Lane, for his part, said Nichols’ killing “tarnishes the badge of all who wear it.”
“As a citizen and a father, I am angry at what I saw on the video of the Memphis beating of Tyre Nichols,” Lane said. “This was a despicable act towards another human being. As a police officer, I am infuriated at what I saw. This act tarnishes the badge of all who wear it, and we can and must do better. It’s not enough to have policies, training and protocols. We need to have kindness and empathy in our hearts. We have much more to do and I am fiercely committed.”