Politicians must speak up about how to avoid another Tyre Nichols situation

There is a hue and cry going out from politicians today for some sort of police reform after Tyre Nichols’s death. Every single politician is condemning the police; not a single politician defending the police. And there is not a single politician with the guts to say the truth; namely, that Nichols would be alive if he had not resisted arrest.

The videos of the events preceding Nichols’s death show a single rogue cop who used excessive force. Everything else in the videos, hard to watch though they may be, shows four of the five officers doing nothing more than attempting to arrest a man who was resisting arrest throughout. There was only one officer who used excessive force when he kicked and punched Nichols’s head. And the simple truth is that Nichols is partly responsible for his own death. It must be acknowledged that if he didn’t resist arrest, he would be alive today.

The duty of the police is to arrest those who break the law and/or who threaten public safety. In Tennessee, all police have a right to use reasonable force to effect an arrest (T.C.A. § 39-11-620). No person, Black or White, has a right to violate the law and be free of consequence. No person, Black or White, has a right to refuse to be arrested (T.C.A. § 39-16-102). On the contrary, every person in Tennessee has a legal duty to submit to police orders during an arrest (T.C.A. § 39-16-103)

Outrageously, the Memphis Chief of Police Cerelyn Davis has completely abandoned her officers, describing their collective actions as “beyond George Floyd.” Davis is a person with a history of failure who should never have been put in a leadership role.

The Shelby County DA has outrageously charged all five officers with a series of crimes: Second-degree MurderAggravated AssaultAggravated KidnappingOfficial Misconduct, and Official Oppression. To be clear, the mere fact of doing this has destroyed their careers, if not their lives, irrespective of the legal outcome.  This is not justice, it’s mob justice—it’s a reverse lynching with no legal basis.

Image: Tyre Nichols’s last moments. YouTube screen grab.

The last three of those charges would only be appropriate if all the officers knew that they had no lawful justification to arrest Nichols. We have yet to see the arrest report from the first officer who had contact with Nichols, but he is the only possible person who could be charged with the last three offenses assuming for the sake of argument that he knew for a fact that he had no basis to arrest Nichols.

When that first officer on the scene called for backup, all other officers were legally justified to rely on the first officer’s claim that Nichols had violated the law. To hold otherwise means we now have a new legal doctrine that applies to all police—no police officer can provide backup unless he had observed the initial criminal conduct themself.

Once Nichols ran from the first attempted arrest, every other officer involved in trying to apprehend him had a right and duty to arrest Nichols for the crime of resisting arrest. To hold otherwise is to hold that Black Americans may now break our nation’s laws with impunity. It quite literally invites more people to resist arrest—and thus, more real violence.

Ultimately, there is no legal theory to hold all five officers liable for Nichols’s murder. As noted, only one officer used excessive force when he struck Nichols in the head, once with a kick and several times with a punch. Holding the other four liable for that officer’s excessive force would only be appropriate if the five officers were engaged in a felony from the start (T.C.A. § 39-11-403), not a lawful attempt at arrest.

If this is to be the basis for police reform and to become the law of the land, our police forces can close shop. Blacks will have the privilege not to be arrested. All police officers will face criminal liability every time they answer a call for backup. And any attempt to take part in an arrest will lead to liability for all police officers if any single one does something wrong.

To appease the BLM mobs, progressives in Minnesota started us down the path of this wholesale war on policing when they judicially lynched Derek Chauvin and his fellow officers for the self-inflicted overdose death of the repeat felon, George Floyd. We have seen a degradation in policing and an explosion of crime in this nation ever since.

The reform that our nation desperately needs is a breed of politicians who will stand up in support of those police who did nothing more or less than their job. The police must be supported, or this nation will continue its descent into a criminal hellscape. We need our politicians to speak out against affirmative action hires like Chief Cerelyn Davis and against the utterly outrageous charges brought against four innocent officers by the Shelby County DA. And we particularly need these politicians to show their true backbone by speaking the hard truth: What young men need, and particularly young black men need, is to be told to comply with police. They can always contest charges later but must never do so at the point of arrest, especially because an untimely death ends all protests.

Cross-posted from American Thinker

Header image: The lynching of William “Froggie” James. From Wikipedia (hyperlinks and footnotes omitted):

William “Froggie” James, an African-American man, was lynched and his dead body mutilated on November 11, 1909 by a mob in the Illinois town of Cairo after he was charged with the rape and murder On November 2, 1909 of 23-year-old shop clerk Anna Pelley.

James was denied due process and killed before the police investigation had been completed. The townspeople of Cairo formed a mob and murdered him, along with a second prisoner from the town jail whose trial had been delayed. The lynching drew crowds of thousands, and led the Illinois State Legislature to pass a series of anti-lynch and anti-mob laws that led to major reforms throughout the Midwest involving the sentencing and protections for African American people in Illinois. The lynching also mobilized advocacy groups in the state to push for more legal protections of African-American communities in smaller towns.