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The disturbing case of police and Tyre Nichols

A Column Written By Danette Michell, Communication Press & Publicity Chair

The justice system seems to be working properly in the case of the horrific death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols. His story is devastating and disturbing for me. Nichols, the father of a 4-year-old and a Black man, brutally lost his life at the hands of former Memphis law enforcement officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmit Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith, who are also Black men. These ex-officers were recently fired and accused of excessive force lodged against Nichols. Now they have each been charged with second-degree murder, charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and official misconduct and oppression. They should be fully prosecuted — they have broken the trust of the people they vowed to serve when human decency should have prevailed. These former officers are a disgrace to the uniform and the Black community. On Jan. 7, the five pulled Nichols over for reckless driving. According to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and others connected with the case, after the officers pulled over Nichols, a confrontation occurred, and he took off running. These ruthless thugs in blue pursued him, resulting in another confrontation before they took Nichols into custody. When Nichols complained of shortness of breath, he was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Three days later, he died from his injuries. Preliminary autopsy reports found that Nichols suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.” He was a FedEx employee suffering from Crohn’s disease and weighed no more than 145 pounds. Yet, he was tased, pepper-sprayed, and restrained, said Crump. Attorney Antonio Romanucci, also working on the case, added that Nichols was a “human piñata for those police officers.” In addition, Nichols was allegedly denied swift medical care by them and firefighters after the assault. In the body cam video, Nichols’ mother hears her son asking the ex-officers, “What did I do?” He called for her three times as he was nearing his home. Unfortunately, his family didn’t hear him screaming for help. Nichols’ stepfather believes he fled from the police because he was afraid and not because of any criminal act. When the public sees the horrific video, he said, we will understand why Nichols feared for his life. Word on the streets is that the former officers were allegedly dressed in plain clothes and part of the Organized Crime Unit. More than any community, these Black ex-officers should have known that while Black Americans aren’t the only ones who have suffered police brutality, the community is disproportionately victimized and have a long ancestral history of incidents to prove it — including those we’ll probably never know about. When it comes to the aftermath of police brutality cases, many Black people must process the current incident reported, including their own trauma of law enforcement officers — again. My condolences go out to the family members who must suffer the pain of losing their loved one in a traffic stop that turned deadly. When a Black officer murders a Black body under questionable circumstances, the same public outcry, action, and energy from Black Americans should be similar to when a White officer murders a Black body. Unfortunately, we don’t know which police officers may be criminally minded and violate our civil rights. Consistent anger must be targeted at the injustice of police brutality, no matter who’s involved. We have diligent officers who are risking their lives daily to protect us. We must continue seeking other strategies besides police reform to weed out evil cops. #JusticeforTyre Nichols. — The Vacaville author is a social issues advocate. 2022 Women of the Year Congressional Award Recipient. E-mail:

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