Police leaders throughout the North Shore are condemning the actions of five now-former Memphis police officers charged with murder in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols, whom the officers brutally beat after apprehending him. Nichols later died from his injuries, according to Tennessee authorities.
“The men and women of the Wenham Police Department are angered and disturbed by the actions of the Memphis police officers,” wrote Wenham Chief Kevin DiNapoli. “It’s impossible to imagine how a human being could have such disregard for another, especially those who take an oath to serve and protect and are entrusted as protectors of the community.
“As we move forward,” continued DiNapoli, “we hope for peace and healing for the family and friends of Tyre Nichols.”
Nichols, a 29-year-old Memphis man, died on Jan. 10 from injuries that police say were caused by five Memphis officers during a traffic stop on Jan. 7. Body-worn camera video of Nichols’ arrest was released on Friday, Jan. 27. It sparked outrage nationwide as Memphis police officials said the footage didn’t contain probable cause for reckless driving, the alleged reason for Nichols being pulled over initially.
The video, among other things, depicted police repeatedly using tasers and pepper spray and batons to assault Nichols, as well as kicking him, as he repeatedly attempted to break free and flee.
The officers were fired on Jan. 20 following an internal investigation and later charged with second-degree murder and other charges; a sixth officer was placed on leave Monday.
“The video regarding the arrest of Tyre Nichols is disturbing and appalling,” Peabody police Chief Thomas Griffin said. “The behavior of those five officers is excessive, outside of their training, and criminal. This type of behavior has no place in policing.
“No one should ever be subjected to (the) treatment Mr. Nichols was forced to endure,” Griffin continued. “The Peabody Police Department strongly condemns the behavior of those five officers.”
Salem’s police put out a joint statement shared by Chief Lucas Miller and union presidents Officer William Riley and Sgt. Kevin McDonnell, to “represent the entirety of the Salem Police Department in our condemnation of the killing of Tyre Nichols.”
“The prevention of violence against the helpless is one of the principal reasons we took the oath to become police officers,” the statement read. “To see exactly such violence applied by men wearing uniforms much like ours is truly sickening. It is unconstitutional, it is illegal, and it is disgraceful.”
Marblehead police Chief Dennis King issued a lengthy statement, calling the incident “deeply disturbing and appalling, as those who were tasked with the duty of protecting citizens, failed miserably.”
“We stand proudly with our community leaders to guarantee MPD officers are trained in the applications of force, the duty to intervene, the duty to render care, and the sanctity of human life, which is at the core of this tragedy,” King wrote. “In addition, we promote a department culture based on compassion, understanding individuals’ frailties, and treating everyone, equally, with respect. This is our approach every day, on every call, and we work tirelessly to provide this level of service.”
The statement from Wenham police opened with five words: “In unity, there is strength.” It also echoed sentiments from the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, describing the situation as “appalling” and “indefensible”.
“We support a thorough and fully transparent investigation into what transpired and trust the criminal justice system will hold those who are responsible for Tyre’s death accountable,” the statement from the state association read. “The arrest of the officers involved and release of the body-worn camera footage will no doubt be met with outrage, disdain, and frustration.”
The statement continued with a forecast for the days that followed the video’s release, a forecast that was paired with a warning.
“The egregious nature of the images depicted in the video may lead to citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest,” the statement continued. “We are committed to protecting that right. We are also committed to making sure communities are safe and secure during this process. This association and its members are committed to maintaining community partnerships and relations in an effort to keep the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts safe and secure.”
Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.