Tennessee lawmakers urge 'accountability' for Tyre Nichols after police video release

Tennessee lawmakers on Friday night called for “accountability” in the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, after Memphis authorities released video footage from the arrest that resulted in his fatal injuries earlier this month.

“Like so many across our state and nation, I am deeply disturbed by the video footage released this evening,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) said in a statement, adding, “The criminal justice system must swiftly pursue accountability.”

Hagerty said he has asked the Department of Justice and FBI to keep him updated on their investigations into the incident and urged for a “full, independent investigation to determine what happened and how to prevent such misconduct from ever happening again.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) echoed the sentiment, adding that she had also been in contact with the Justice Department.

“I am confident the Memphis Police Department and State of Tennessee will conduct a thorough investigation,” she added in a statement.

Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was pulled over by Memphis police on Jan. 10. The footage released on Friday showed that police pepper-sprayed, tased and beat him during the encounter.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who represents part of Memphis, said it was “overwhelming” watching the video on Friday.

“It’s clear that Tyre Nichols died because of the brutality and callous disregard, really an appalling lack of humanity, of the Memphis police officers,” Cohen said in a statement. 

“From the first encounter with the police, it’s clear this was about ego,” he added. “There was no respect for Tyre Nichols and no answer to his simple question asking what he’d done. They were not there to serve and protect, or even to apprehend; they were there to punish and dominate.”

Cohen also criticized the officers for failing to provide aid to Nichols when he was “obviously terribly hurt.”

“They leaned him against a car and left him while they chatted and sometimes even laughed,” Cohen said. “They were apathetic and callous about his injuries. They were in no hurry to render aid to the man they had beaten.”

Five police officers were fired last week over Nichols’ death and were charged with second-degree murder on Thursday.