Tyre Nichols deadly beating reignites talk of police accountability and reform

Tyre Nichols fatal encounter with five police officers in Memphis is a glaring reminder that more needs to be done to stop police brutality before it ever occurs, according to civil rights leaders. They made similar calls for police reform following the death of George Floyd, who died as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

After Floyds death, several states approved nearly 300 police reform bills, creating citizen oversight committees, anti-bias training, and stricter use of force limits for police in their jurisdiction.

RELATED: 6th officer relieved of duty in Nichols deadly beating

The changes however stopped short of getting enough support to pass the George Floyd justice in policing act into law. The legislation would have set up a national registry to report police misconduct. It would have banned racial and religious profiling by police. And, it would have allowed citizens to sue in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights.

The legislation failed in 2020 and 2021, prompting President Biden to sign a limited executive order which mandated the use of police body worn cameras and set limits on the use of force required to deescalate a situation.

Even thought the Memphis police department unit that initiated the stop on Nichols has been disbanded, and five officers have been criminally charged, civil rights leaders are calling on Congress to do more.

“We come to call the action of Congress by failing to craft and pass bills to stop police brutality,” Glorida Jean Sweet-Love with the NAACP said.

It’s a sentiment shared by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris who tweeted, “Congress must act with urgency and pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing act.”

Some lawmakers say there’s no legislation that can prevent an officer from committing heinous acts like these.

“I don’t know that there’s any law that can stop that evil we saw,” House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan said. “it’s just difficult to watch. What strikes me is the lack of respect for human life. I don’t know that any law, any training, any reform is going to change -- this man was handcuffed, they continued to beat him.”

It’s important to point out that the quick termination and prosecution of the five officers accused in Nichols death is unusual. Opponents to police reform say the action taken against these officers sends a message in itself, that this kind of behavior among police won’t be tolerated.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.