U.S. SENATOR CORY BOOKER
“The videos bearing witness to the brutal killing of Tyre Nichols evoke feelings of pain, horror, and terror that are tragically familiar to so many Americans. Tyre Nichols is now part of a group whose names we know — like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery — and whose names we don’t.
“Tyre Nichols should be alive today. My heart aches for his family, friends, and loved ones, who are dealing with an unimaginable loss. His death is a grave injustice. Those responsible must be held accountable, and we can’t stop there.
“In recent years I’ve worked with families, civil rights leaders, local mayors, activists, law enforcement leaders and union members and many more who all share the same understanding that we can raise the levels of transparency, accountability, and professionalism in American policing. Doing so will not only help prevent tragedies like this one, it will help us achieve higher levels of public safety. We can do better, we must do better, and this moment demands again that we muster the collective political will to act.
“Although Senate action on policing reform has proven difficult, from the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to more targeted reforms, I will never stop working to build a broad coalition to enact the changes that will make our nation safer, stronger, and more just.
“In the coming days as this new Congress is beginning, I will be renewing my legislative efforts to advance the reform we need and that Americans are demanding.”
GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY AND LT. GOVERNOR SHEILA OLIVER
“We are horrified by the video footage released earlier today that showed Memphis police officers brutally and inhumanely beating Tyre Nichols.
“When those sworn to uphold the law violate the rights of those they serve, there must be accountability. While we are gratified that the officers involved were immediately relieved of duty and swiftly charged for their roles in Tyre’s death, that does not reverse the injustice that was done. Tyre should be alive today.
“All Americans deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity by law enforcement, particularly Black Americans, who for far too long have received disparate treatment by our criminal justice system. Although the vast majority of police officers serve honorably, there are a select few who abuse their positions of power and unjustly tarnish the reputation of a profession dedicated to protecting the public.
“In New Jersey, we have enacted meaningful police reforms, including revamping use-of-force standards, ensuring independent investigations in police-involved shootings, requiring all officers to wear body cameras, and allowing for the decertification of officers who commit serious misconduct. And we are committed to deepening this work.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to Tyre’s family along with our hopes for justice and accountability.”
NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL MATT PLATKIN
“Tyre Nichols should be alive today – not just as a matter of principle or justice, but as a matter of human dignity. The footage our nation watched tonight was unconscionable. Law enforcement officers are faced with incredible responsibilities often under the most challenging circumstances, and nearly all dispatch those duties with respect for the lives and safety of those they serve. There is no excuse for this violence – it erodes the trust between community and law enforcement that people across this state tirelessly work to build and strengthen. We will not let violence win and we will re-double our efforts to maintain and grow the strong partnerships we have built.
“In New Jersey, we take pride in our duty to protect and serve the public and the use of force requirements embraced by our law enforcement community reflects that pride. At the core of our use of force policy is the principle that the sanctity of human life and service to the community is paramount: it reads that in serving the community, officers shall make every effort to preserve and protect human life and the safety of all persons. This is their obligation, and it is the law.
“With support from Governor Murphy, I intend to continue doing everything in my power to rid this state of violence of any kind and make New Jersey a more just place to call home for every resident. Tonight, I share the grief felt by people across this state and country. I have spoken with many of our residents who are in pain right now, and I know this murder rips the scabs off wounds that have hardly healed. In New Jersey, law enforcement will be part of that healing. We will listen to our residents, and we will continue on the path towards justice together.
“As our state’s chief law enforcement officer, as a father, and as a human being, my heart is with the people who loved and lost Mr. Nichols. And my prayer is that we end this violence – so no one else ever experiences the profound sadness of a mother who cannot hug her son tonight and a son who will grow up not knowing his father.”
U.S. ATTORNEY PHILIP SELLINGER
Like so many around the country, we are deeply disturbed by the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Tyre Nichols. Shortly after his death, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Tennessee and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division opened a criminal civil rights investigation. We express support for our colleagues who are working hand in hand with the FBI and other law enforcement partners. We have no doubt that their investigation will be thorough and methodical, and they will make decisions based on the facts and the law. In addition to the federal investigation, several officers are now facing prosecution for state charges.
We appreciate the significant public interest in this matter. We want to make clear that the U.S. Attorney’s Office respects the right of all people to assemble and protest peacefully. As Tyre Nichols’ family has urged, we urge that any protests remain peaceful and nonviolent.We will also continue to protect civil rights and work to ensure justice for all in New Jersey. Where law enforcement officers abuse their authority by violating the constitutional rights of our citizens, it undermines all other law enforcement officers who lawfully perform their duties with dignity and respect. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has prioritized civil rights investigations and prosecutions of any public employee who violates this public trust.
Last year, I created a Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office with the sole focus of enforcing and protecting federal civil rights. Individuals who believe they may have been victims of civil rights violations may file a complaint with the U.S Attorney’s Office at http://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement/complaint or call the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Hotline at (855) 281-3339.
COUNTY PROSECUTORS ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY
Anger. Hurt. Frustration. These are just some of the many emotions experienced after seeing the brutal treatment suffered by Tyre Nichols during a Tennessee traffic stop. The videos released today are far beyond disturbing; we echo the sentiments of Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis in describing this violent police encounter as heinous, reckless, and inhumane. It was a failure of our system of justice, as law enforcement officers, as public servants, and simply as human beings. Shelby County District Attorney Steven J. Mulroy acted swiftly and appropriately in charging all five officers with Second Degree Murder and related offenses.
As County Prosecutors, we are entrusted with the responsibility of serving as the chief law enforcement officers within our own respective communities – we are your neighbors and your friends. All 21 County Prosecutor’s offices and all police agencies in New Jersey are dedicated to building strong and healthy relationships with our communities.
New Jersey has one of the finest law enforcement communities in the country, but we are not ignorant to the fact this breakdown of basic humanity can happen anywhere. Every law enforcement encounter such as this reverses the progress we are making across our state. The trust we have worked so diligently to establish is damaged. We want to assure our residents that we will continue the momentum of building relationships and partnerships with the community through transparency, accountability, training, and professional development. In the last few years, all law enforcement officers in New Jersey have received revised and extensive Use of Force training and Integrated Communication and Tactics (ICAT) and Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) de-escalation training. ICAT and ABLE instruction specifically trains our officers to de-escalate situations and intervene if they see other officers using excessive force, regardless of rank.
Our sincere concerns and prayers are with the family, friends, and loved ones of Mr. Nichols, and the entire city of Memphis as they cope with this tragedy and seek to rebuild trust in those who have taken an oath to protect and serve them. With this matter being investigated jointly by the Department of Justice, FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Shelby County District Attorney’s
Office, and the Memphis Police Department, we have the utmost confidence that the virtues of our criminal justice system will prevail.
We remind anyone who believes they have been unfairly treated by law enforcement to contact their local police chief or County Prosecutor’s office to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation is conducted.
SALVATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
This evening, the horrifying body camera footage of the violent attack of Tyre Nichols by Memphis, TN police officers was released to the public. While no longer shocking, witnessing the brutal and callous way in which so many Black lives are snuffed out by members of law enforcement continues to be both jarring and incensing. This video is evidence that as a nation, we refuse to learn the lessons, and that refusal trickles down to every state, every municipality, and every neighborhood. The issue of police violence is not, nor has it ever been a case of a few bad apples. The culture of police violence and misconduct is endemic in our society, and we do not… CANNOT… meaningfully redress this issue with calls for more police or increased police spending in our state’s budget.
While there have been some positive gains, New Jersey still exists as one of the most inequitable states in the nation, and Black residents are disproportionately subjected to police use of force at alarming rates. Statewide, Black residents are three times more likely to face police force than white residents. Depending on where you are in the state that likelihood increases exponentially. Data shows that in Lakewood, a Black person is 22 times more likely to face police force than their white counterparts.
Despite its efforts, the state continues to fall short at rooting out the issue of police brutality and racial inequality. In the wake of George Floyd, there were increased investments in police training, body camera equipment, and the establishment of use of force reporting requirements. Those efforts have yielded shameful policing bills that allow officers to view body camera footage prior to writing their reports; a reporting system so flawed and ineffective that at least 62 times officers accidentally marked themselves as dead which is indicative of the absences of care or attention to the process; and a recent report from the New Jersey Comptroller’s office stating that despite mandates by the US Justice Department, New Jersey State Police continues to demonstrate “weaknesses” in its oversight and implementation of training programs and policies including disciplinary issues from its trainers along with considerable deviations from the training curriculum.
Tyre Nichols, 29 years old, standing 6”3 and weighing 150 lbs. was but a mere 100 yards from the safety and security of his mother’s home, where 5 Black Memphis officers (whose collective body weight totaled at least 1000 lbs.) brutally kicked, beat and struck Mr. Nichols leaving him in critical condition before ultimately succumbing to his injuries. This evokes two important points regarding policing.
First, the evidence is clear that nationwide, Black communities (in contrast to many white communities) live in legitimate fear of experiencing harm by the police. Those fears are substantiated by the fact that Black people are killed by police at significantly higher rates than any other racial group nationwide. The solution to this problem does not exist in increased spending for training or calling for ethnic diversity in police agencies. The best solution to this problem rests in community-led alternative response teams FREE from police involvement or interference. Increasingly, throughout the nation we are witnessing the rise of community-led response teams as an alternative to police responses for nonviolent, substance use, behavioral and mental health calls. Community response teams rely heavily on highly trained professionals other than police and have been proven to be an incredibly effective tool in violence interruption as well as limiting unnecessary and harmful interactions between police and communities of color. There is simply no need for the police to be involved in nonviolent interactions with Black people… PERIOD. We at Salvation and Social Justice are calling for significant investments in community-led response pilot programs throughout the state.
Secondly, although Tennessee has a police certification system established in the state, it was not enough to prevent the actions of those 5 officers that night nor the inaction of the many other officers and first responders who were present at some point throughout Mr. Nichols’ ordeal and failed to intervene or render aide. Like Tennessee, New Jersey recently established a police licensure system, but it alone will not be enough to hold bad actors accountable. That is why we are urging the legislature to codify the Attorney General’s Use of Force Directive. In December of 2020, then Attorney General Grewal released a new statewide use of force policy. If codified, it would significantly strengthen protections against police use of force for people in the state beyond any administration. The statute would not only impose strict limits on officers’ use of force and deadly force, but equally as important, it would require officers to intervene if they witness another officer using excessive force and establishes strict consequences for failure to do so. Something that may have made all the difference in Mr. Nichols’ case as well as countless others.
It’s been nearly three years since this nation’s last watershed moment with the murder of George Floyd. Nearly three years of talks between advocates and lawmakers; calls for police accountability; three years of empty rhetoric and missed opportunities and the time is now for the state to assume bold, courageous and necessary leadership.
Salvation and Social Justice will continue to strive towards the liberation of our communities through equitable and just public policy, and look forward to working closely with the administration, the Legislature, advocates and community leaders to bring us closer to ensuring a fairer, more just, equitable and safer state for all of its residents. And that safety includes protection from those who took an oath to protect and serve as well as the assurance that anyone who violates that oath will be held accountable.
CAMDEN COUNTY COMMISSIONER DIRECTOR LOUIS CAPPELLI, JR.
“Earlier this month, an act of senseless violence was perpetrated by five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee. The body worn camera video we watched of Tyre Nichols, 29, who was pulled over on Jan. 7, was shocking and horrifying. This savage act of violence against a member of the Memphis community was heinous and unacceptable.
Over the past 10 years, the CCPD has become a national model for our innovative training and our department has adopted one of the most progressive uses of force policies in the country. Furthermore, our officers are regularly trained in de-escalation techniques and our sole mission is rooted in preserving the sanctity of human life above all else. We deploy our police officers into the community as guardians of peace, not as a militarized force.
This tragedy has been watched millions of times and sickens all of us. By working together with state, county and local officials, clergy members, nonprofits and residents, we can, as a community, come together to guarantee justice. And, through these unbreakable bonds we can ensure this type of behavior never happens here.
The CCPD has come a long way in ensuring we grow and nurture better bonds with our neighbors. The body worn camera video we all watched in Memphis has no place in 21st century policing- no one should ever die from a traffic stop. That said, we applaud the quick termination and murder charges being brought against the suspects and will keep the Nichols family in our thoughts and prayers.
CAMDEN MAYOR VICTOR CARSTARPHEN
“The senseless violence that unfolded in Memphis, Tennessee continues to demonstrate the strained relationships which still exists between law enforcement and many communities throughout the nation. The Camden community has witnessed its fair share of tragedy. I can only sympathize and pass along my condolences to the Nichols family. Across the nation, we are still seeing reports about black and brown men and women being the victims of excessive force by police. There are way too many incidents, way too many people being severely injured, and way too many people losing their lives. This type of violence should not be the norm and is simply unacceptable.
“Nevertheless, I do see a model of progress in our community. Camden residents, businesses and community stakeholders have developed strong relationships with our men and women in blue. The Camden County Police Department have lead the way as a national model for community policing. Camden officers are regularly trained in de-escalation techniques and CCPD have adopted progressive use of force policies. This progress and the community bonds were built through hard work, difficult conversations, trust building, and continuous engagement.
“I commend Memphis authorities for terminating and filing charges against these individuals for their reckless actions. It is now important that the authorities conduct a thorough investigation and take the appropriate actions in order to mend the relationship between Memphis’s African – American residents and the police. I am confident that communities, particularly African-American communities throughout the nation will continue to monitor the situation to ensure a judicial outcome. This is yet another glaring opportunity to address this issue and bridge relations between police departments and the communities they swear an oath to protect. I encourage continued dialogue and engagement. I pray that the family of Tyre Nichols, the residents of Memphis and police department find a peaceful solution to this tragic loss.”
CAMDEN COUNTY POLICE CHIEF GABRIEL RODRIGUEZ
“After following the investigation and then watching the murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis from body worn camera video released by the Memphis Police Department, I can only say it’s extremely hard to be thoughtful about the actions of these officers. I watched in horror and disgust the excessive force used against an unarmed black man that resulted in his death, which is nothing short of horrifying. No one in America should get pulled over for a traffic violation and not make it home to their family and there is no place in police culture that should be accepting of these heinous actions. At the CCPD we have been working for the last 10 years to build bonds with the community and ensure our officers are guardians and not warriors in Camden city.
“We have worked to change the culture of law enforcement by focusing on the sanctity of life and ensuring everyone goes home at the end of the night when there is an encounter with police. Furthermore, as an agency, we have worked hard to make sure residents do not get to know us when we are responding to incidents, but they see us in their neighborhood playing football in the park or hosting weekend basketball games. Nevertheless, we condemn the actions of the officers in Memphis involved in the murder of Nichols and will keep Tyre’s family in our thoughts and prayers as they are deal with the unimaginable.”