A new case of police violence is controversial across the Atlantic, to the point that US President Joe Biden himself called for calm. In Memphis, Tennessee, five police officers were charged and jailed on Thursday, January 26, following the death in early January of Tire Nichols, a 29-year-old African-American. The victim died a few days after an arrest that his family considers brutal, according to court documents.
According to the Shelby County prison register, these police officers from Memphis, a large city in Tennessee, are the subject of several charges, including murder, assault and kidnapping.
On January 7, police arrested Tire Nichols for a traffic violation. As the officers approached, a “confrontation [avait] occurred “ and “the suspect[était] run away », the police said in a statement. Tire Nichols was eventually arrested, but he complained of having difficulty breathing, and was hospitalized. He died three days later.
The circumstances of this arrest remain unclear. A video of the facts should be made public in the coming days. According to lawyers for Tire Nichols’ family, who were able to view the footage, “the police beat him to the point that he was unrecognizable”.
What happened is “inadmissible” and “criminal”that “shouldn’t have happened”hammered David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, saying to himself “shocked” and “disgusted” by what he saw. “In a word, it’s absolutely appalling. »
The memory of George Floyd revived
This case finds a particular echo in the United States, still marked by the death of George Floyd, in May 2020, and the demonstrations against racism and police violence, to cries of “Black Lives Matter” (“black lives matter” ) that had ensued.
Lawyers for the family of Tire Nichols, including the famous Ben Crump – who had represented the family of George Floyd – welcomed the indictment of the police. This new “gives us hope as we continue to demand justice for Tyre”they commented.
The five charged officers, who are themselves African-American, were fired last week. The internal police investigation had shown that they had used excessive force. Other officers are still under investigation.
The agents involved are “directly responsible for the physical violence committed against Mr. Nichols”Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said Wednesday, saying it was not a question of “not only from a professional error but from a lack of humanity”. “This act was heinous, irresponsible and inhumane. »
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“I expect you to be outraged [en voyant les images de l’arrestation de Tyre Nichols] »admitted M.me Davis. The video of the arrest will be made public on Friday evening. Deeming the organization of demonstrations also likely, the police chief called not to “incite violence or destruction”.
No ambitious reform
“As Americans mourn, the Department of Justice investigates, and authorities continue their work, I join Tire’s family in calling for peaceful protest. Anger is understandable, but violence is never acceptable”Joe Biden said in a statement, also calling for a “quick, complete and transparent investigation” on this drama. “We cannot ignore the fact that deadly police interventions have affected black people more”recalled President Biden.
The Democratic president is urging Congress to pass a police reform bill, passed in the House of Representatives in 2020 but which did not pass the Senate hurdle.
Since the murder of George Floyd, the US Congress has been unable to pass any ambitious police reform in the United States, including a ban on chokeholds.
The president of the civil rights organization NAACP, Derrick Johnson, for his part called on elected members of Congress to watch the video of the arrest and then to act. “We can name all the victims of police brutality, but we can’t name a single law you passed to address the problem. »