A new standard for police brutality

Editorial Board

The city of Memphis, Tennessee, has been holding its breath for the past couple of weeks, awaiting the release of body camera footage from the Memphis Police Department after a routine traffic stop resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols. 

According to an article from The New York Times, five members of the Memphis Police Department have been charged with second-degree murder, among additional charges, for the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols. It is worth noting that the officers involved were terminated, investigated and charged before the body camera footage was released to the public, according to the Wall Street Journal. Officials from the Memphis Police Department urged citizens and protestors to remain calm ahead of the release of the body cam footage, with Police Chief Cerelyn Davis going on record saying that the actions of the officers were “a failing of basic humanity towards another individual,” according to an article from Yahoo News. The family of Tyre Nichols has also expressed the need for calm, with Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells stating, “We want peaceful protests … that’s what the family wants. That’s what the community wants.” 

Unfortunately, Tyre Nichols’ case is just the latest in a trend of police misconduct. According to an article from The Guardian, “US law enforcement killed at least 1,176 people in 2022, making it the deadliest year on record for police violence since 2013 when experts first started tracking the killings nationwide.” Regardless of whether all of these incidents place the responding officers at fault, policing is one of, if not the only career where this level of violence not only lacks heavy scrutiny at all levels but is widely accepted as necessary to maintain law and order. 

The body camera footage released by the Memphis Police Department of the encounter was harrowing. No human should have to experience the level of violence and brutality that Tyre Nichols experienced on that fateful night. The Memphis Police Department and the Memphis District Attorney’s office made the right decision when they swiftly terminated and charged the officers involved; however, as citizens, we can now expect nothing less when it comes to investigating and punishing police misconduct. This must be the standard for how police officers are held accountable for their actions nationwide, and we must urge our representatives at all levels to enforce these actions as such. 

You can find the contact information for your local representative’s office at https://house.texas.gov/members/ and https://senate.texas.gov/members.php.

You can find the contact information for your federal representative’s office at https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative and https://www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member.