‘New clock’ on police accountability after death of Tyre Nichols, says civil rights campaigner


The US has a “new clock” on police accountability following the quick arrest and firing of five officers charged over the death of Tyre Nichols, influential civil rights campaigner Al Sharpton has said.

Speaking at a rally in Harlem, New York, Reverend Sharpton also rejected the idea that there was no race element to the fatal beating of Mr Nichols by the officers just because they themselves are black.

It comes after Memphis Police released bodycam footage showing police beating the 29-year-old for three minutes while screaming profanities at him throughout the attack.

Warning: This article contains violent images

Five officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes, including assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression, over Mr Nichols’ death.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Harlem. Featuring: Rev. Al Sharpton Where: New York, New York, United States When: 16 Jan 2023 Credit: TheNews2/Cover Images  (Cover Images via AP Images)
Al Sharpton on January 16. Pic: AP.

Following an internal investigation in which they were found they used excessive force or failed to intervene, the officers were also dismissed by Memphis Police Department’s Chief of Police, Cerelyn Davis.

Ms Davis, who became the force’s first black female boss in 2021, previously called for “sweeping changes and police reform” in the aftermath of the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Reverend Sharpton, making a speech at a weekly National Action Network rally, said: “So there’s a new precedent set now ‘cos this black women police chief messed you up now – ‘cos she said I’m not waiting on nothing – arrest them, fire them.

“You now got a new clock on police accountability. We don’t want to hear no year investigation.”

Read more:
Timeline of violent arrest

Arrest video is sickening indictment of policing that night

Addressing the involvement of race, he said: “One person said to me well at least it ain’t about race.

“I said the race part of it is those black guys thought they could get away with doing it to a black guy.

“You know you couldn’t get away with doing that in Tennessee to a white guy – and you won’t get away with doing it to a black guy either.”

An officer beats Tyre Nichols with his baton.
An officer beats Tyre Nichols with his baton

Meanwhile, at a press conference of city leaders held on Saturday, state representative Joe Towns Jr, echoed the comments of Reverend Sharpton on the force’s prompt investigation.

He also said police chief Davis had his full support, praising her for taking “swift action”.

The comments came as a memorial fund set up in the aftermath of Mr Nichols topped $535,000 (£433,000).

The GoFundMe page, set up by Mr Nichols’s mother, is aimed at helping to pay for a memorial skate park in his honour, as well as to allow his family time off from their jobs to grieve and seek justice.

On Saturday, police released four separate videos cut into one hour-long clip, including police bodycam footage and footage from a CCTV camera of the attack on Mr Nichols.

Tyre Nichols
Tyre Nichols called out for his mother three times as he was being beaten

In the footage, Mr Nichols can be heard screaming “mom, mom” several times as the beating unfolds. He was 80 yards (73 metres) from his family home, according to his mother.

Police chief Davis asked for calm before the video footage was made public.

“I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels,” she said. “I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights.”

Protests are taking place in at least nine cities across the US – including Memphis – after the bodycam footage was released.

Mr Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, had earlier warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but pleaded for peace saying “tearing up the streets” is “not what my son stood for”.

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‘They killed a man who looked like me’

US President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death”.

“It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that black and brown Americans experience every single day,” he added.

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