Killing of Tyre Nichols prompts renewed calls for federal police reform

The police killing of Tyre Nichols has prompted renewed calls for law enforcement reform, as protestors continue to hit the streets over the 29-year-old’s death.

Talks between lawmakers stalled after a bill was passed by the House of Representatives in June 2021 in the wake of another police killing, of George Floyd, in Minneapolis. It included a ban on chokeholds and a national registry of police abuses.

Now, lawmakers and advocates are calling for a renewed effort to pass the legislation.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, chair of the judiciary committee, said on Sunday that both parties “should sit down again, quickly, to see if we can revive that effort. But that in and of itself is not enough.”

The Congressional Black Caucus has similarly requested a meeting with President Biden to discuss justice reform, including the conduct of law enforcement.

“We are calling on our colleagues in the House and Senate to jumpstart negotiations now and work with us to address the public health epidemic of police violence that disproportionately affects many of our communities,” Rep. Steven Horsford, chairman of the caucus, said in a statement.

Mr Biden already called on Congress to pass the reform bill.

“Today, we all must re-commit ourselves to the critical work that must be done to advance meaningful reforms,” he said in a statement on Friday.

The lawyer representing the Nichols family also added his voice to those calls. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump told ABC News that RowVaughn Wells, the mother of the 29-year-old who died three days after his brutal arrest in Memphis, hoped her son’s death would lead to a “greater good” coming from it.

“It’s still very emotional. His mother is having problems sleeping. But she continues to pray with the understanding, as she believes in her heart, Tyre was sent here for an assignment and that there’s going to be greater good that comes from this tragedy,” Mr Crump said on Sunday’s This Week programme.

And Mr Crump said that the family want to “have the House also push efforts to get police reform because without federal police reform, I think we’re going to continue to see these hashtags proliferate so much…that we can’t keep up with them.”

Mr Crump also addressed the fact that the five officers charged with murder are all Black.

“You know, as I’ve said, I believe it’s part of the institutionalized police culture that makes it somehow allowed that they can use this type of excessive force and brutality against people of colour. And it doesn’t matter if the officers are black, Hispanic, or white, it’s part of the culture, this biased culture that said this is allowed,” he said.

“And so just as much as those officers are responsible for the death of Tyre Nichols, so is the implicit, biased police culture that exists in America.”

Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith have been charged with second-degree murder. The officers were fired last week after an investigation into Mr Nichols’ death.

The former officers are each facing additional charges, which are aggravated assault – acting in concert; aggravated kidnapping; official misconduct and official oppression, according to the Shelby County District Attorney’s office.

The police department announced the firing of the officers on 20 January.

Video of the violent confrontation between officers from the now disbanded “Scorpion” unit and 29-year-old Nichols, during which officers can be seen punching him and using batons and taser weapons to subdue him as he cried out for his mother.

The officers were then seen standing around after the attack and failing to provide any medical care as they laughed and joked about their roles in the shocking arrest.

Former president Donald Trump has described the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols as “horrible” and says that it “never should have happened.

The former president’s comments came one day after the city of Memphis publicly released video footage of the attack earlier this month.

“I thought it was terrible,” Mr Trump told The Associated Press on Saturday. “He was in such trouble. He was just being pummeled. Now that should never have happened.”

Meanwhile, The five police officers charged in the killing of Tyre Nichols will be arraigned in mid-February.

Court records show they are scheduled to appear for a “bond arraignment” on February 17, Fox News reported. Their arraignment hearing will be presided over by Shelby County criminal court Judge James Jones.

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