COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — After being stopped and beaten by five former Memphis Police Officers, Tyre Nichols’ death is drawing reactions from across the nation.
Police video showing the aftermath of the traffic stop was released late Friday.
WRBL asked Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman, his Russell County counterpart Sheriff Heath Taylor, and Georgia state Sen. Randy Robertson – a retired Sheriff’s deputy and national Fraternal Order of Police board member — for their reaction to the video.
Here’s what they had to say. First, Countryman.
“It was painful to watch. Painful to watch,” Countryman said. “Having three sons, being that close to home. Calling out for your mother, um, that was very, very traumatic for me to even watch it and hear what happened. … The first thing that I thought about was training – a lack of training. The physical abuse was like I have never seen before, the blatantness of it. And no one tried to stop or intervene.”
Here’s what Taylor had to say.
“I saw a lack of trained officers who were making a bad situation worse by not following proper procedural things to handcuff a guy who wasn’t wanting to be handcuffed,” Taylor said. “They had the proper people, the proper numbers to be able to cuff that guy even though it’s very difficult to cuff someone who doesn’t want to be cuffed or who isn’t complying.”
Here’s what Robertson had to say.
“The experience that I had that jumped out to me was when I was the ASAC (Assistant Special Agent in Charge) of the Metro Narcotics Task Force and worked directly under Capt. J.D. Hawk from the Columbus Police Department,” Robertson said. “We had operations at times that would require those types of situations. The problem with viewing this is I am not really sure what the probable cause on the traffic stop was to begin with. … The process they used to extract the individual from the vehicle and the lack of communication between officers and getting the individual out is very contrary to what we used to do.”
Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon was not available for an on-camera interview but issued the following statement through the department’s Public Information Officer.
“The details and video of the beating death of Tyre Nichols are deeply disturbing,” Blackmon’s statement read. “The actions of the five former Memphis Police Officers are not consistent with any professional law enforcement training, procedures, or code of ethics. In fact, incidents like this severely undermine the trust law enforcement officers work hard to build each day with the communities we serve.”
“The men and women of the Columbus Police Department will remain committed to maintaining our partnership with the community in a manner that continues to promote confidence and trust in the Columbus Police Department. Our goal is to always serve with honor, professionalism, and accountability backed by adequate training. As Chief of Police for the Columbus Police Department, I am proud of our men and women who uphold their oath daily.”