After Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was beaten by several police officers in Memphis on Jan. 7 and died in a hospital three days later, body cam footage released in the days following revealed a gut-wrenching, aggressive attack.
As Nichols’ death and the subsequent footage re-ignited conversations and protests over race relations and policing across America, Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders released a statement on Saturday sympathizing with Nichols’ family and calling for the attention of law enforcement nationwide.
Nichols was reportedly pulled over for reckless driving, which Sanders called “completely irrelevant. There is no crime that exists in which police would ever be authorized by legal, moral or ethical standards to act in such a ruthless manner.”
The basic duty of a law enforcement officer, Sanders wrote, is to develop probable cause for a crime and bring the accused before a magistrate to have their day in court.
“At no point in this video did I observe any meaningful attempt to actually place Tyre under arrest,” Sanders wrote. “What makes me particularly uneasy about this footage is watching how comfortable these police officers were when they carried out their attack; Tyre probably wasn’t their first victim. It is the duty of sheriffs and police chiefs everywhere to seek out and eradicate these individuals from our ranks.”
Sanders continued to say he was proud to serve among officers in Washington who have taken additional steps to decertify police who commit misconduct and where some of the “best police training in the country” takes place.
Each time this sort of incident occurs, he said, police everywhere step back and say these bad individuals do not represent police as a whole. Sanders stated while he agrees with the statement, “we as police officers need to listen to the fact that communities across the country have been begging for us to reciprocate that trust for decades.”
Despite Memphis and Olympia being 2,324 miles apart, he said, “we all have to do our part.”
He closed saying, on behalf of the entire Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, “our hearts go out to Tyre Nichols and his family, friends and local community. You deserved better.”
Five Memphis officers have been charged with murder in connection with Tyre Nichols’ death. They were fired from the police force.