LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – With the release of video of the violent arrest of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, who died just three days later from his injuries after being beaten by five Memphis police officers, the reaction in central Arkansas has been swift.
After the death of Nichols, all five officers were fired and then subsequently charged on Thursday with second-degree murder.
Little Rock Police Chief Heath Helton took to Twitter to condemn the actions of the five former Memphis officers in a statement, saying:
The Little Rock Police Department condemns the horrific actions of the Memphis officers who were involved in causing the death of Tyre Nichols.
The events surrounding the recent death of Mr. Nichols in Memphis are senseless and unjustifiable. He lost his life as a result of injuries sustained at the hands of Memphis police officers who were sworn to protect both him and the community. As unimaginable the grief his family and the community must feel at this time, I offer my sincere heartfelt prayers and condolences in the wake of this tragic loss.
As Chief of the Little Rock Police Department, I fully resolve to ensure that our officers have the tools and training necessary to protect our community, along with a commitment to the ethical treatment of everyone we encounter. Our oath to protect and serve must be upheld with this guiding principle to see the humanity in every single resident of our great city.
North Little Rock Police Chief Patrick Thessing also shared a statement concerning the death of Tyre Nichols, stating:
It is of the utmost importance that I begin this statement by offering my deepest condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols and to all of those who have been impacted by his tragic and unnecessary death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tennessee.
Mr. Nichols died as a result of the excessive and brutal actions perpetrated against him by the very individuals who swore an oath to safeguard human life and respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice.
There are no words to describe the brutality and complete disregard for the value of human life we observed in that video. Those five men, who were police officers in name only, displayed a total disregard for the core principles and ethics of law enforcement. These men have forfeited the honor of being addressed as officers. All of us at the North Little Rock Police Department strongly condemn these horrific actions.
As the leader of the North Little Rock Police Department, I can assure our community that our officers will conduct themselves in a respectful, professional, and ethical manner in accordance with the policies and values of this organization and in accordance with state and federal law.
Our officers will continue to be thoroughly trained and equipped with the needed tools to provide the highest quality of service for all of those who live, work and visit this city. The North Little Rock Police Department is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards in policing, not only for our organization but most importantly, for the citizens we serve.
Reaction to the video has even seen a protest that stretched out over the I-55 bridge that joins Tennessee and Arkansas over the Mississippi River Friday night