NEW ORLEANS — Friday night, the body camera footage of Memphis Police officers beating up Tyre Nichols, who three days later died.
The video released has sparked horror, outrage, and shock. It raises more profound questions and discussions about the system of policing.
We sat down and analyzed the video with the Director of the Center for Racial Justice, Dr. Ashraf Esmail. He points out that Nichols was killed by Black officers, saying this is not a matter of race but a matter of police brutality. He also points out that no officer steps in to stop the beating.
“It’s police brutality whether it’s Hispanic, whatever it was, this was a misuse of power,” Esmail says. “You start to think of the idea of groupthink because there’s not many of them. No one of them was stepping in. At one point, you see 11 police officers, and not one of them thought there was anything wrong with this type of behavior.”
Esmail says it’s a complete misuse of power by those who feel untouchable. He says there needs to be an overhaul of how things are done at Memphis police. In the video, you also hear the officers speaking about the beating flippantly, which is not something we should expect from officers.
“I think what was telling was the way they were speaking on body cameras like this was a common practice. ‘I’m going to hurt this man. I’m going to beat him,’ this is not what you expect out of police officers,” Esmail says. “It seemed just listening to the body cameras that this was part of their culture. You can’t take anything away from it. The way they were speaking, the way they were talking, they didn’t care. ‘We’re going to beat this man, we’re going to do this,’ all the cursing the whole video. It was like this is just the culture. You can’t interpret it any other way that this is just accepted, and they didn’t seem to care their body cameras were on.”
Many are looking for solutions, but Esmail says he’s not sure there is one. He points out the country is in the midst of a police brutality and crime issues.
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