The Tragedy of Tyre Nichols
Having a wonderful son the same age as Tyre Nichols, I can only imagine the pain of his mother and father. Like my own son, Tyre seems to have been a wonderful guy … full of life … and admired by all who knew him. His loss – in and off itself—is a tragedy. How he lost his life compounds the magnitude of the tragedy.
The circumstance of his death has all the elements of Greek tragedy. I have been following the case closely and there are so many facets to embrace.
Tyre’s Death Versus the Floyd Case
First and foremost are the circumstances of his death. They are not entirely comparable to the George Floyd case, as many anti-police activists would have us believe. In fact, of the millions of arrests – and thousands of deaths by police – both cases are relatively rare.
The Floyd murder involved three police officers – two white and one person-of-color (Asian) as they are now known. One was the active killer and the other two guilty of not interceding,
The Nichols killing (yet to be officially a murder) was at the hands of five police officers – all black – and there were other officers and paramedics on the scene – perhaps ten or more. Five burly officers pounding on a 150-pound unarmed young man is not an even match. It seems that they were preferring to beat Nichols rather the subdue him. They were attacking Nichols in a manner that was clearly illegal and a violation of basic police training.
The other similarity in the cases was the capture of the action by video recordings – from cell phones in the case of Floyd to body cams and surveillance cams in the case of Nichols. In the Floyd case, the video evidence was not as compelling on its own. It had to be supported by witnesses and an autopsy. In the Nichols case, the police violence was obvious, shocking, and graphic. What caused Nichols’ death was much more obvious to the viewer.
The other obvious distinction between the Floyd and Nichols cases is that there was no case for racism. The Floyd case had many claiming racism, but that was never officially established as a motivation. No matter. Those invested in spreading racist narratives seized on the case.
Who Were These Cops?
Because of the number of police involved – and the fact that they were all from a special unit called SCORPION (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) – there is a question of training and culture. That unit has been disbanded.
We still need to know what triggered this group violence. On the video, the police looked more like a gang of thugs than police engaging in a traffic stop. Why were there so many police involved in a traffic stop? Why did they approach Nichols so aggressively at the onset – rather than just asking to see his license and issue a ticket, if appropriate?
Why didn’t other officers intercede? Why didn’t the paramedics respond quicker? All this will be flushed out in the courts – but it does not look good for those on the scene, whether they are charged with crimes or not.
Swift Justice … and the Police Chief
If there is any part of this event that should assuage public concern, it is the official response. The officers involved were quickly arrested and charged with second-degree murder – among other things. The arrests and charges came swiftly. Given the fact that Nichols’ death cannot be undone, swift justice is all that a just society can provide.
The system worked.
I was also struck by the candor of Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis. In an interview on CNN, she did not dodge any questions or show restraint in her opinions.
There was no coy deflecting because the case is “still under investigation.” She left no room for doubt that in her opinion, it was an open-and-shut case of murder by her own police officers. Davis was so forthright that I wondered if she had not provided defense attorneys with claims of prejudicing the jury pool.
At the same time, however, it was refreshing to hear her state the obvious rather than hide behind official double-talk.
I was struck by the graciousness and dignity of the Nichols family – especially the mother. In a very long interview on CNN, she mourned her son, but amazingly expressed sympathy for the police who killed him.
She said that she felt sorry for them because they brought shame on themselves … their families … and the black community. She said that there are a lot of good police officers, and she knows some.
She also pleaded that public reaction should be peaceful She also expressed her belief that something good would come out of it. It was a remarkable response from a woman who has every right to be angry and bitter.
Politicizing the Tragedy
As can be expected, there were a lot of voices in the media that leaped on this tragedy to advance their political agendas. Despite all the individuals involved being black, a number of media personalities and panelists played the race card – some calling it the “result of white privilege.”
That is utter nonsense. These are police who went rogue for reasons that are being investigated.
The anti-policing faction of the Democrat Party was in full force in the news – as if this event represented the thousands of police officers across America. Terrible as it is, the killing of young Nichols was an exception to the millions of police interactions, arrests, and even killings.
It does not prove that policing across America is broken. There are bad cops – but they are rare. There may even be institutional problems in some places – but they are few. Maligning all police for political gains is wrong and destructive.
The response by the Memphis Police Chief and the prosecutors could not have been more expeditious and more appropriate. It is obvious that the criminal justice system is working just fine in Memphis. I expect that the officers involved and culpable – including others who failed to intercede – will receive the justice they deserve in a court-of-law. That is the best outcome we can expect.
So, there ‘tis.
I was struck by the graciousness and dignity of the Nichols family. Very well written.
NO parents should ever have to go through something unjust like this and face such a
Prayers are with the family.
Let’s also not forget Kelly Thomas who was beat to death by officer Manual Ramos in Fullerton, California in 2015 and now walks our streets a free man after aquittal.
Richard, English is a funny duck; you basically said Kelly is walking the streets as a free man. We easily know what you meant, but for Joe’s Russian readers, they may be confused. :>)
Frank Stetson … Who is Richard English. Are you confused?
Do you understand the concept of the comma? Are you….
Crude, Dude. Crude.
Floyd was NOT murdered by the policeman, who was deliberately used by the police haters; he killed himself with alcohol and drugs. THAT is the reason he couldn’t breathe – he caused his own heart attack, and that is the reason
he died. It’s on him, not the policeman.
Careful there! You are stating facts that might make a few of the liberal haters that read this site’s heads explode. (We can only hope).
English is a funny duck: Teddy, I think you just wished that liberal haters heads explode. As in people who hate liberals. As in “people” like you. In this case, I can resonate with your stated ambitions and think you be spot on. Nice job.
Keep up the good work and give your teachers a raise for doing such a bang up job.
Wow, able to distort two things with one like. Really sucks I guess to be the one’s in jail, put there by a bipartisan jury no less.
Mellie … Regardless of any prior conditions, Floyd did at that time due to the actions of the police officer. If one person strangles another who happens to have heart condition, we do not absolve the crime. That is what the jury had to deal with … and they decided based on testimony and evidence. I think it was the correct verdict.
Larry; have you been hitting the sauce? He did???
Some things in life should not be judged on a percentage but on the absolute number which, in the case of police murdering unarmed men, mostly black, seems very appropriate.
Larry offers no solution except to say it don’t happen that much.
I love how people say “they acted so fast, so decisively,” while not mentioning the outstanding difference that Larry points out, but also does not mention as salient in the national reaction.
Of course, Kamala turning up and doing a high-school job reading from the teleprompter even seemed to embarrass Sharpton. It’s sad when your eulogy is not only scripted, but seems like you haven’t read it before. This woman has run out of feet to shoot herself it. Freakin gets driven everywhere, food brought in, people clean for her, and she can’t memorize a few minutes of text? As least Joe is old and very busy. Kamalala is young and has lot’s of free time in the easiest job in the world: waiting for the Presidnet to be incapacitated, which we all, either party, pray never happens. Her state of the onion might bring us to tears……
I say there needs to be a national standard on things police can and can not do. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which disables qualified immunity. Only one Republican voted for the bill and he said “sorry,” and took his vote back. Not the guy you want as President, not good with buttons apparently. And Gooden was his name-o.
Republicans should find common ground to do something, these things may be a small percentage but way over the top for what should be happening in US policing. IMO. We need common benchmarks.
Terrible tragedy but for once I pray something good comes out of it. What a difference that might make. Democrats have a bill, Joe will sign, it’s time for Republicans to offer something we can build with to make things better.
It’s odd that when democrats are in power they and the media gets confused on what and who is to blame.
It’s nice and polite including the parental touch.
Yet, your version of policing does not get at issues that scream for actionable solutions. tragic questions demanding just and decisive action
What you have here is a case aggravated by your crippling communication failure. An inability to receive and process critically objective facts crying out for notice. Because , if you study policing gone wrong there are not only a few bad apples in the fruit basket. The basket itself breeds bad apples.. The basket is the problem. More laws thrown at it does not change police culture emphasizing an us berses them structure. Adversarial posture in communities is their model. Why do motorists look in the review when when they see a cruiser parked after they pass it? Who doesn’t check the speedometer seeing the cruiser, even if it is going in the opposite direction?
Own the fear and get real. Police Unions’ influence in government have bought and paid for GOP congressional votes since Calvin Coolidge was a pup and before.
Larry, you were raised and came of age in Chicago during the 50’s and 60’s. Chicago PD were your friends, pussycats. Isn’t that do? Rubbish, urban policing is a tough and brittle profession. Bad guys around every corner and lawbreakers everywhere driving on the streets.
Police paranoia is police seeing transgressors in the population assuming anyone of them will perpetrate a crime.
We the people deserve better. In fact, we demand better from our police departments.
Today’s police forces don’t have good and bad apples . It’s better described as being populated by different kinds, apples and onions. Onions don’t belong with good solid apples and should not be put together in one basket.
Apples are better with the onions tossed out. Self cleansing, honest professional police officers managing their ranks. And, you include rigorous training in psychology and mental health.
Defunding police departments is a defeatist policy. Strategic quantitative results driven positive attitude founded budgeting not throwing good millions in bad investments.
Conservatives push less government centralized. Put your money where your mouth is and concentrate on your local police department’s act being made straight.
The GOP is well represented on police departments. Larry, see to your own people in blue. Wagging your finger at your liberal friends as those at fault has gaslighting and projection on your part focusing in the wrong place. Clean out your own house first, then you may stand on solid ground.
Your 118th Congress majority does not have a grip.
Two years with the nuts leading the bolts in ridiculous circles is an embarrassment in governance. That’s an objective fact. As is, too, the way forward in policing policy intellectually intuitive,
Disparage away, Larry. Your reputation precedes you.
Ac … First, ideal with the issue of “policing” in an upcoming commentary.
Your invention of the Chicago in which I lived is just that .. your straw man based on ignorance of Chicago and my life. Do you really believe I saw police as pussycats? Come on, man. Are you totally out of touch? In my youth, Chicago was a hot be of police racism and corruption. The Chicago Democrat machine had made the police a racist terrorist operation against police. Most of that has be eradicated — although there is still racism in the Chicago justice system — from cops to courts. During my career, I launched two civic investigations of police corruption — and cooperated with other, like the better Government Association and the Chicago Crime Commission.
Of course, the was — and is Chicago and our other major cities. But even there it is a matter today of bad apples. The institutions are not as corrupt and it does not at all apply to the vast majority of police departments. Police acting badly is a specific problem that needs to be address locally — by local laws. Ant that is working. We are not in need of a national takeover.
As usual Ac, you have no idea what you talk about. It seems like all your experience comes from the virtual reality of left-wing information sources. You description of Chicago policing in my youth is totally uninformed.
The story of Tyre Nickol’s and his tragic death at the hands of Memphis police officer is impossible for understanding. Words can nowhere near convey a complete picture of who he was and the multiple consequences that are the result.
His inappropriate violent treatment by “peace officers “ resulting his death days later exacted a societal cost that we all, Americans in total as human beings deserving respect, are responsible for. Our inaction by ignoring others humanity and denying basic dignity rights to every individual judged unworthy of our concern, let alone our slightest attention.
Tyre’s humanity was denied him. His dignity stripped from him. No one has the right nor authority to exact on another human being physically brutal damage as Tyre was made to endure. His treatment was worse than animal control officers treat stray dogs and cats. Animals are, by law, treated humanely by authorities and owners. Evidence on video reveals officers showing disregard and contempt for Tyre, his right to innocence before being found otherwise by a court, his right to live and opportunities in life, his right to liberty even in being stopped for an apparent traffic violation.
Tyre’s story has been spread far and wide in the media’s immediate and constant coverage. Soon a rush in information, opinion commentary, family interviews, and “press reports “ fill every network’s time schedule. Listeners and viewers react. But, will Tyre’s story end police behaviors toward others? This time will change come so stories like Tyre’s with innumerable others before him will repeat over and over. That the sincerest hopes uttered by parents and caring people become reality, so this will not and does not happen again.
Sadly, this is destined for repetition across our nation.
We are a nation divided politically and political differences pit contrasting opinions into agitated confrontation. Warring between individuals, families, church congregations, township councils, school boards, and on to State and Federal governing bodies. Religion, finance, social:cultural, medical science, and more is sickened with politic’s cancer. No objective authority on matters at issue in the above living organisms is forth coming. Although, a legion in number present claims to have objective truth respective to each applicable area of discipline . None, not one so called non/judgmental, apolitical, and unbiased party or individual has objectivity as their sole purpose and lacking a personal agenda.
Central in deciding critically the objective and true standard, is a test that shows preferential and undue benefit.
Those tuned to critical analysis and on the lookout for objective minded source reporting watch for opinion commentary containing “us vs them” bias emphasizing one perspective over all others. As it’s said, follow the money. Who gains benefit, who.pays, and to whose advantage considering all parties concerned. With objective truth used as the cornerstone for building decisions in intelligent debate toward a just conclusion. In the end, reality means there will be both winners and losers. Winners justly receive that which should be theirs. While losers actually don’t lose anything that they would not loose in time.
We do not live in a perfectly just , even , any true world. Seemingly, those who harvest where they have not planted and take for granted earnings not worked for., they prosper, living well and long.
We see from an outside vantage point, while in truth, the biased denying prejudice , the self asserting expert across multiple disciplines and issues in each, but has no tranction gaining solutions so the many benefit. Partisan solutions that benefit only the one party are overturned with the other parties majority rule.