RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Following the release of videos showing the violent traffic stop that resulted in the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols earlier this month, Virginia leaders and law enforcement released statements on the tragedy.
Five Memphis Police officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith — were charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct and official oppression. By Friday morning, they had posted bond.
Richmond Police Department’s Acting Chief of Police, Rick Edwards, released a statement condemning the actions of the five Memphis officers.
“As communities around our great nation still grapple with the aftermath of the 2020 civil unrest, police departments are also dealing with the same fallout. Life, as we know it will never be the same, and many police departments, are taking this moment to re-evaluate policies, culture, and behavior. Many of us have watched the news and seen the deplorable actions of five Memphis police officers who did not have an appreciation of someone else’s life and caused a senseless death of a Memphis man, father, and son.”Rick Edwards, Richmond Police Department’s Acting Chief of Police
Virginia leaders responded to the shooting as well, including Gov. Glenn Youngkin who spoke on behalf of his family and Virginians everywhere.
“The hearts of Virginians and our entire nation ache tonight as we struggle with the horrible events in Memphis and grieve for Tyre Nichols and his family. The disturbing and shocking video released this evening displays incomprehensible violence towards another human being and we must condemn these heinous actions. As we process these agonizing events, I ask those exercising their first amendment rights to do so peacefully. We will ensure Virginians’ first amendment rights as we prioritize and protect the safety of the Commonwealth and all Virginians. We can choose to come together and not further the divide. We must strive each day to better our communities and treat one another with love and respect.”Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also made a statement soon after the video went public.
“The footage of [Tyre Nichols’] murder is disturbing and horrific. This senseless act must be condemned. I call on all of us to lift his mother up in prayer because NO parent should ever have a child so brutally taken from them in this way. The Nichols family deserves justice.”Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney
The Virginia Joint Democratic Caucuses and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus released a joint statement as well.
“Tyre Nichols was murdered by the very people who had been tasked with keeping him safe. We need accountability, but even more, we need reform and systemic change. We must commit to doing more to guarantee safety and respect for our communities. A system in which a traffic stop ends with someone murdered is a system that is deeply broken. Tyre Nichols’ family deserves to know what happened. But more than that they deserve to know that something like this will never happen again. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We have lost fathers, mothers, children, and it’s past time that we have policy and change that guarantees safety and equality. Law enforcement should be there to protect us and no one should ever be in fear for their lives from a traffic stop.”The Virginia Joint Democratic Caucuses and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus
U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th District, Abigail Spanberger, also released a statement on the arrest.
“Words cannot express this horror we have all now witnessed on video — the sickening footage of the arrest, brutal beating, and horrific murder of Tyre Nichols by sworn officers of the law. As we demand justice for Tyre Nichols, I thank Chief Davis of the Memphis Police Department for her decisive action in terminating these officers and for her transparency throughout this investigation. I will be following closely as Shelby County District Attorney Mulroy builds his case, having just charged the five officers involved in this egregious murder. In the days and weeks ahead, I join the people of Virginia’s Seventh District and Americans across the country in expecting justice, peace, and accountability. And I pray for peace in his parents’ hearts as they grapple with the loss of their son.”Abigail Spanberger, U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th District,
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police also released a statement from the association president — and Chesterfield County Chief of Police — Col. Jeffrey Katz.
“A police uniform is a symbol of public trust. Those who commit a crime in uniform not only violate the law, but also erode public confidence in police nationwide. I just witnessed a video of the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols by people wearing a uniform that 800,000 Americans bring honor to every day through acts of selfless service. For so many reasons, witnessing this incident hurt my heart — as I’m sure it did yours. Mr. Nichols deserved better. We must endeavor to do better and never tolerate — nor defend — the abuse of that power entrusted to us.”Col. Jeffrey Katz, Chesterfield County Chief of Police and President of The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police
U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 3rd District, Bobby Scott, also released a statement on the arrest.
“Like many across the nation, I was sickened and outraged at the video of the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols at the hands of the police. This is the latest in a lengthy and disturbing list of incidents of police brutality and we cannot let this kind of behavior continue to go unanswered. I have twice voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and I would implore Congressional Republicans to stop blocking this critical piece of legislation, so we can have real police accountability and keep our communities safe. My thoughts are with Mr. Nichols’ loved ones and the Memphis community at this time.”Bobby Scott, U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 3rd District
The Richmond City Council released a statement later in the night, including information on resources available to the community during this difficult time.
“After witnessing this video, our hearts ache for this family as a traffic stop has resulted in the death of a young, black man’s life — a father and a son. As other leaders of our great City and across the nation have shared, we recognize that processing this will be handled in different ways — some will wish to use their first amendment rights and others will look to identifying safe spaces in which to communicate with professionals.”Richmond City Council
The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP (Virginia NAACP) released their statement earlier on Saturday, Jan. 28. The statement begins “The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP is horrified after witnessing another death of a young Black man, Tyre Nichols, at the hands of police.”
“Watching the brutal killing of Tyre Nichols is not a call for more violence. It is yet another horrifying reminder that the culture of policing must change. Our legislators cannot continue to turn a blind eye to criminal justice reform. We call on every Virginian to call on their legislators to do what is right. Pass legislation that fundamentally changes policing in America.”Robert N. Barnette, Jr., President of the Virginia NAACP
The City of Petersburg released their own statement on Saturday afternoon. The joint statement was released by Petersburg City Council, the Petersburg Bureau of Police and the Petersburg government team.
“Acts of violence by those the public has placed trust must not be tolerated and have no place in society. All Petersburg Police Officers pledge on their honor never to betray integrity or public trust. We hold our officers accountable in all actions taken in upholding the law and protecting the citizens of Petersburg.”Travis Christian, Petersburg Police Chief
“The City of Petersburg is committed to ensuring that this type of unwarranted behavior and lack of respect for human life will not take place. We must continue to come together as a community to find solutions to resolve conflict in a civil and just manner.”Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham