Protestors gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Friday night calling for police reform after the release of videos showing the violent arrest of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.
Nichols is a Memphis man who died three days after he was beaten by police during a traffic stop on Jan. 7.
Protestors are calling for police reform while local law enforcement agencies have condemned the officers’ actions.
Barricades were moved in after some protestors were seen tagging nearby walls and throwing fireworks. No arrests have been made and the protests have remained peaceful throughout the night, officials said.
“It’s heartbreaking, it’s shocking,” said Spencer Fomby of the Nichols arrest. Fombyis a use-of-force training expert who spent most of his career with Berkeley Police.
He says the use-of-force by the five Memphis police officers against Nichols was notably excessive.
“My initial reaction is how unprofessional the officers are,” said Fomby. “Their inability to control him. Their inability to do really basic tasks.”
Fomby said when the officers first made contact with Nichols, they should have taken him to the ground and controlled his limbs, even if Nichols was not complying with orders.
“Their goal should have been to put him in handcuffs,” said Fomby. “If you see everything they’re doing, they’re fighting against each other, they’re using pepper spray in the middle of the crowd of officers. The officer who uses the pepper spray, sprays himself and sprays his partner.”
Fomby believes not only should the officers have been able to control the situation, but they should have had a supervisor at the scene, as well.
LAPD Chief Michael Moore released a statement on Friday saying in part, “This behavior goes against every principle of the law enforcement profession and is in direct contradiction to the dedication and sacrifice of the vast majority of our members who strive to protect and to serve.”
Jerretta Sandoz, Vice President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, condemned Nichols’ beating and the officers’ actions.
“When the person is under control or handcuffed, that’s when use-of-force should stop,” explained Sandoz. “But we only use force that’s reasonable and necessary and this was not reasonable and necessary.”
Fomby says what happened in Memphis is another example of the need for more officer training, national policy changes and an overall culture shift in policing.
“They have a culture that needs to get fixed in that unit and probably in that agency,” said Fomby.