The death of Tyre Nichols was horrid and unnecessary, but racial and anti-police politics, not justice, appear to be front and center in this case.
Tyre Nichols’ death was likely caused by a single rogue officer who used excessive force. Part of the problem is societal — why do so many black men think it appropriate to resist arrest? Likewise, societal problems are the racial and anti-police politics now dominating America. What is happening to the arresting officers is not about justice. All but one of the arresting officers appear to have done nothing more than try to lawfully arrest Nichols, Lastly, and despicably, race hustlers in this nation are trying to paint the death of Nichols as caused by racism and white supremacy.
NOTE: Branca was able to see the videos better than I was. I claim declining eyesight. After looking at Branca’s analysis of the videos, it appears that the first kick delivered to Nichols was to his head, there were approximately six punches. and the baton blows were to the body of Nichols. Moreover, all of the blows just described were delivered by the same officer. I could not tell at first if it was one or two officers. I have updated this post accordingly.
Tyre Nichols was a 6’3″, 145 lbs., 29-year-old off-duty FedEx employee with no criminal record at the time of his death. He was also the father of a 4-year-old son. We don’t know whether he was married to his son’s mother.
On January 7, Memphis police allegedly stopped Tyre Nichols for the misdemeanor crime of reckless driving. This is a traffic offense, and we do not know how this escalated from a simple ticketing offense to an arrestable one, though that would not be unusual. Reckless driving is often the initial charge laid against a driver who appears to be impaired and who needs to be taken off the streets for the public’s safety. We still do not know if Nichols was, in fact, impaired as the official autopsy has not been made public, nor do we know any of the facts the police relied on to make their initial stop and attempt to arrest Nichols.
There was already an attempt to arrest Nichols ongoing when the police officer wearing the bodycam in the first video (below) arrived on the scene. At no point then or during the second arrest attempt did Nichols appear to be armed or appear to present a direct threat to the officers.
Once the video begins, we see that Nichols refused to comply with officer commands, actively resisted arrest, and then ran away, all despite police attempts to subdue him, including with pepper spray and a taser. The events of this first arrest attempt are shown in the video below. The officers involved solely in this first arrest attempt have not been charged with any crime.
Update: That is no longer true. Virtually anyone who touched Nichols at any time, including during the first attest and the medics who rendered treatment, are being suspended and charged, though it is not clear at the moment what crimes they are being charged with.
All remaining videos that have been released show the second attempt to arrest Nichols after he was recaptured and cover a period of several minutes. Video two is from a stationary surveillance camera, while the third and fourth videos are police bodycams.
The second attempt to subdue and arrest Nichols begins about 30 seconds into the surveillance video and is over by about the 4-minute mark. During that time, one officer is seen kicking Nichols while two officers are restraining Nichols. The restrained Nichols was unable to defend himself from the kicks.
The two other officers continued wrestling with Nichols on the ground, commanding him to “give us your hands.” A bit later, amazingly, Nichols gets to his feet as the two officers are still wrestling with him. It appears that the same officer who kicked Nichols then repeatedly punched him in the head. The two officers wrestling with Nichols render him unable to defend himself from the blows. It is those blows that seem to injure Nichols as his legs give way, and he falls again to the ground.
At yet a third point, the same or a different officer is seen striking Nichols from behind with a baton. One observer claims the strikes were to Nichols’s head, though I, with declining vision, cannot tell that from the video.
Throughout, until the very end when he was severely injured, Nichols does not comply with police commands to “give us your hands.” About a minute into the bodycam video, Nichols calls for his mother. After being struck repeatedly in the head, he no longer calls out in understandable language. It looks and sounds by that point as if he has suffered neurological damage.
Finally, the police succeed in cuffing him. They leave Nichols writhing on the ground for a minute before sitting him up against a police car, where he seems to pass out. About three minutes later, it appears that medics arrived and began attending to Nichols.
Of note, it is not clear why — or how — Tyre Nichols continued to refuse to comply with police for the entirety of the event, up until the point when it appears and sounds as if he has suffered neurological damage.
Note: As to the questions now highlighted in red below, both Branca in the video above and Robert M, a former policeman in Honolulu, address the questions directly. Apparently, what happened with Nichols being able to resist determined efforts to arrest him for several minutes is more the norm than the exception, despite the seeming disparity in size and number of officers.
Something went very wrong here, and there are still several relevant questions that need answering.
- It is hard to believe that the five cops, every one of whom was far beefier than the 145 lb. Nichols, were unable to force Nichols’s submission, How is it that the two officers who had him on the ground were unable to manhandle Nichol’s arms behind his back?
- How was it that Nichols was able to stand halfway into the second attempted arrest?
- Were the two officers on the ground with Nichols, the ones demanding that Nichols “give us your hands,” truly unable to take control of his hands and effect the arrest? Or were they involved in a power game, demanding Nichols comply rather than forcing it?
The answers to the above questions are something that requires the testimony of the police involved and a level of analyzing the video that is beyond my capacity.
Surveillance Video Two (only available on Youtube):
Bodycam Video Three:
Bodycam Video Four:
There is no getting around the horror of this incident. Anyone who is not struck emotionally with the events shown on these videos has a heart of stone.
In that vein, it bears observing that there is no sadder or more forlorn sound than that made by a person, be it a child or adult, soldier or civilian, male or female, who has been injured so severely that he begins crying out for his mother to come and comfort him. It is utterly primeval, a constant stripped of any artifice, a reaction of raw honesty to great pain and injury.
There is simply no more heartbreaking sound one can hear, wholly irrespective of all of the other relevant facts giving rise to the moment. And you can hear it from Nichols in the videos above, right up until the point where he is so injured, presumably by blows to the head, that he is no longer capable of speech.
All of that said, outside of the progressive post-modern left, emotions aren’t facts. Because five police officers were involved in an event that ended horrifically does not mean that each officer should be charged with crimes.
Three days after this incident, on January 10, 2023, Tyre Nichols died in the hospital. Benjamin Crump, who gloms onto these tragedies with the unerring instinct of a fly for carrion, claims that an “independent autopsy” shows that Nichols died of internal hemorrhaging but has provided no additional details. One should never trust a party’s attorney without verification.
That said, the official autopsy has not yet been released. I expect that it might show if there were one or more particular blows that caused death. Trauma from the baton strike will look different than a strike by hand or kick by foot. Assume for now that Nichols died as a result of neurological damage from repeated blows to his head, as appears likely.
You can read the indictments against the five charged officers, but they don’t shed light upon the legal theories the Shelby County DA used to charge them, nor do they contain any relevant facts. The five black officers involved in the second attempt to arrest Nichols have all been charged with second-degree murder and a host of lesser charges, including aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, Official Misconduct, and Official Oppression. These lesser charges would only be appropriate if Nichols had a right to refuse to be arrested and the police had no right to use force to arrest him. Second-degree murder means that, while the charged party did not intend to kill the victim, he knew that the victim might die as a natural consequence of his actions.
No one in this country, irrespective of skin color — Tyre Nichols included – has a right to commit a crime and then simply refuse to be arrested for it. To hold otherwise — which is the police that many of the nation’s worst race hustlers advocate — is to invite societal breakdown, anarchy and, inevitably, vigilante justice, something that never goes well for a suspected criminal.
Policing is inherently adversarial and having to use physical force is a fundamental part of the job. Police always have a right to use an appropriate level of force when necessary to effect an arrest. The only question is what degree of force is reasonable at any given moment during an arrest.
Every police force follows a use-of-force continuum.
So, for example, if a suspect passively resists arrest, as George Floyd did, police can use simple physical holds and restraint techniques necessary to effect an arrest, as the Minnesota officers did. However, if a suspect actively resists arrest, as Nichols does throughout his arrest, then the police may use greater force and non-lethal weapons, such as tasers or pepper spray, to subdue the subject. And if the suspect threatens the officers or others with bodily harm, something Nichols never appears to do, then officers are authorized to use “defensive tactics” that, at the most extreme of threats, give the police the right to use lethal force.
Police can use a lawful restraint technique to subdue a criminal if the criminal resists arrest (Eric Garner). A police officer can use deadly force against a petty thief if, in the process of resisting arrest, the suspect tries to take possession of the police officer’s gun (Michael Brown). In the 1985 case of Tennessee v. Garner, the Supreme Court held that police could not lawfully shoot a fleeing suspect who was only suspected of a misdemeanor crime unless the police had reason to believe the suspect posed a threat to the public. For example, a suspect who is being arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence may be fired upon if he approaches children while holding and refusing to relinquish a knife (Jacob Blake).
That said, there is nothing in the police use-of-force continuum, short of when deadly force is appropriate, that allows police to strike or kick a suspect in the head. That is exponentially true when the suspect is restrained and cannot limit the damage, as happened with Nichols. Fox News quotes Betsy Brantner Smith, a retired police sergeant and trainer and the spokesperson for the National Police Association, who offered what is a common reaction from police trainers who viewed the Nichols videos. The video, she said, “showed clear violations of proper training,” adding,
“Nobody teaches baton strikes above the shoulders, nobody teaches kicks to the head, nobody teaches the denial of medical aid,” . . . “These men were street fighting, they were not acting as police officers.”
Note: I will leave in the quote above but note that Branca’s close analysis of the video disagrees that the baton strikes were delivered above the shoulders. Further, it was one officer alone who struck Nichols in the head with foot and fist.
That certainly seems right as to the officer(s) who are actually shown kicking Nichols, striking him in the head, and using a baton to his head. By my count, that means one officer, or perhaps two at most. Under what possible legal theory are all five being charged with homicide in this case, other than in a bow to BLM-like mob justice? But no amount of charges against the police will satisfy the Antifa and BLM mobs that will now riot across the US. They are not rioting for justice for Nichols. They are rioting to increase their own political power. This smacks of a lynching.
Frankly, the total charges brought in this case — second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, Official Misconduct, and Official Oppression — are outrageous. They would only be appropriate if the arresting officers knew this to be a wrongful arrest from inception. That is clearly not the case.
When the five officers involved in the second attempt to arrest Nichols appeared on the scene, after he had run from the police and resisted arrest, they had probable cause to arrest him using reasonable force. At no point did Tyre Nichols have a right not to be arrested. At no point did the police have a duty to stop trying to arrest Tyre Nichols.
Predictably, the race hustlers are out in force. For instance, one of the most scurrilous race hustlers in Congress, Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), issued a statement that included the following:
Tyre was brutally beaten to death by Memphis Police officers. . . .
Charging the officers who brutalized Tyre is not enough. Our country will continue to sanction the taking of Black lives with impunity until it embraces an affirmative vision of public safety and dismantles its racist policing system rooted in enslavement and government control. And let’s be clear: merely diversifying police forces will never address the violent, racist architecture that underpins our entire criminal legal system. The mere presence of Black officers does not stop policing from being a tool of white supremacy. . . .
Van Jones took to CNN to claim that any bad thing that happens to a black man results from racism, no matter who commits the bad act. Thus, when a black cop beats a black man resisting arrest, it can only be because of racism and white supremacy
At the end of the day, it is the race of the victim who is brutalized — not the race of the violent cop — that is most relevant in determining whether racial bias is a factor in police violence. . . .
It is the purest of race-hustling bullshit designed to inflame and balkanize the nation. And former Congressman Mondaire Jones made a similar claim on Twitter.
We do have a systemic, societal problem here, but it has nothing to do with progressives’ dark fantasy of racist policing. The societal problem is with single-parent households and boys raised by single mothers, particularly among black families. This is hot a new problem. It has been around since the Great Society. And yet . . .
Nichols fled from the police, his stepfather said, because he was afraid.
“Our son ran because he was scared for his life,” Wells said Monday. “He did not run because he was trying to get rid of no drugs, no guns, no any of that. He ran because he was scared for his life. And when you see the video, you will see why he was scared for his life.”
That is pure bullshit. While I am not saying that Nichols is responsible for his own death, there is no getting around the fact that Nichols put himself in a position where force had to be used against him and, thus, ended in a position where one or two bad actors could and did take his life. No one can argue anything other than that Nichols would be alive today if he had complied with police instructions and not resisted arrest during the two attempts being made to arrest him.
I’ll leave the rest of the commentary to Larry Elder, Jason Whitlock, and Jay-Z.
There is a sad, tragic through line in almost all of these dead black suspect—police encounter cases: resisting arrest. Why is it taboo for “black leaders” like @MayorOfLA, @VanJones68, @TheRevAl, @BarackObama, etc. to tell black suspects NOT to resist arrest?!?#TyreNichols
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) January 29, 2023
Full context of what I said on Tucker Carlson: Memphis police clearly wrong/criminal & will be convicted. Media intentionally hyping to distract from govt action in Ukraine. All a reflection of pathologies produced by the matriarchal culture that plagues black communities. pic.twitter.com/NOJULxV6JR
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) January 28, 2023
Here’s your god, Jay Z, explaining how baby-mama, matriarchal culture drives police brutality. We need to stop all the emotional, performative behavior on social media and deal with reality. https://t.co/39X6YICcbj
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) January 29, 2023
Look, I wish preachers would call out the insanity and corrosiveness of the baby-mama culture we’ve normalized. If preachers did their jobs, I wouldn’t say a word. I know how screwed up I am. But this matriarchal worship is killing us.
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) January 29, 2023
Last of all, this Chris Rock video, from a time when black comedians could still talk about the subject, ages better with every passing year: