Massachusetts Police Superintendent Col. Christopher Mason has called Memphis police’s assault on 29-year-old Tire Nichols, which led to his death, “the antithesis” of police professional values.
“From a professional standpoint, the actions of the defendants are an affront to any police officer who embraces their calling for what it should be — a mission to serve and protect with courage and compassion. Those who killed Mr. Nichols are the antithesis of those values,” the state trooper said in a statement Saturday, calling for peaceful condemnation of the killing that led to Nichols’ death.
The officer said the Massachusetts State Police is dedicated to the values of accountability, integrity and protection of constitutional rights.
“…and as such, we unequivocally condemn the actions of the five former Memphis police officers involved in the fatal beating of Tire Nichols earlier this month,” the officer said.
“The brutality alleged in these indictments, and supported by the evidence described by Tennessee authorities, represents clear criminality and a complete violation of the public trust,” he added.
The chief constable said he is personally “as concerned by what was done to Mr Nichols as I have ever been by any act of violence that I responded to over three decades as a police officer”.
The officer urged public protesters to demonstrate their condemnation peacefully, saying: “We understand that members of the public may wish to exercise their free speech rights in response to this incident.”
“We encourage anyone who does so to act peacefully and with respect for the law and their fellow citizens. In the event of demonstrations, state police will protect the safety, property and rights of all protesters and the general public, the superintendent said in a statement.
Officials released the video footage of the fatal arrest of Nichols on Friday, a day after five police officers were charged in the man’s killing.
The footage has sparked widespread protests across Memphis and beyond. Nichols died three days after his arrest. An independent autopsy released by his family shows he suffered “extensive bleeding” before his death.
On Thursday, officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr and Justin Smith were all charged with second-degree murder.
The grainy footage captures a violent confrontation between police and Nichols, in which officers can be seen using their fists, batons and stun guns on him, then laughing and bragging about the arrest.
“Watch out, I’m going to stick you out,” an officer can be heard saying on the tape.
Despite the new details in the video, an independent initial analysis of the footage does not reveal much more information about why police stopped Nichols, or the exact moment-by-moment sequence of events that unfolded between officers and the 29-year-old. old black man.