KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Political leaders and law enforcement officials in and around Knoxville are sharing statements of shock and heartbreak in the death of Tyre Nichols, who died after a traffic stop by Memphis Police officers. Among the messages is also a call for accountability.
Five Memphis Police Department officers were fired for misconduct and indicted by a grand jury on charges related to Nichols’ death on Jan. 10. Attorneys say an independent autopsy shows Nichols suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”
Video from the traffic stop was released by the City of Memphis on Friday evening. That video is available by clicking here. Please note that viewer discretion is advised as the videos contain graphic content and language.
Leaders in Knoxville, Knox County, Sevier County and the Tennessee Highway Patrol released statements regarding the Tyre Nichols case. Knoxville Police Department Chief Paul Noel also released a statement Friday morning. Below are their statements.
“I am shocked and disgusted by the senseless murder of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five now charged Memphis Police Department officers,” KPD Chief Noel stated. “Based on what I know, the actions of the involved officers were reprehensible, and they should be held accountable to the highest possible extent of the law. Their actions represent a grievous disregard for basic human dignity. And unfortunately, they also undermine all of the positive work the men and women of law enforcement do on a daily basis all across the country…. I have encouraged our officers and employees to use this moment as one to reflect on how we carry ourselves and interact with all members of our community each and every day.”
“I am sickened and heartbroken by what happened,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said on her official Twitter account Friday. “My thoughts are with the Nichols family as they deal with this nightmare. I urge everyone to honor the family’s requests for peaceful, non-violent protests.”
“Regarding the horrible events in Memphis: I’m a strong believer in law and order,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs tweeted Friday. “When police (and government in general) break the law, there is only lawlessness and disorder. This is absolutely unacceptable. My prayers are with Tyre Nichols’ family and the people of Memphis.”
“As many of you have, we at SPD have waited with trepidation for the release of the Memphis Police Department video of the Tyre Nichols killing. Now that we have seen what transpired, I can only say it is the most abhorrent abuse of police authority that I can imagine. There is absolutely no justification for the force that these officers used, for the pain that they inflicted, for the death that they caused.” Sevierville Police Chief Joseph Manning said on Facebook, Friday night. “First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the Nichols family. We offer our sympathies for their tremendous loss, especially in these circumstances. We also pray for the city of Memphis, as they mourn the unnecessary and grievous loss of a fellow citizen.”
“Yesterday, in anticipation of the video release, Deputy Chief Hinson and I had an opportunity to meet with SPD supervisors. We reminded these dedicated public servants of our pledge to protect and serve our community, residents and visitors alike, and that we must continue to treat everyone with dignity and fairness. The well-being of our community depends upon it.”
Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Col. Matt Perry also released a statement on social media on Thursday evening, stating in part:
“As the Colonel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, I feel that I must come forward and stand with the family of Tyre Nichols publicly. I understand the anger and hurt that the public is feeling in response to this tragedy. I feel it too. We are a community, state, and nation of laws where everyone is guaranteed the right to live their lives freely and in the pursuit of happiness. What Tyre experienced at the hands of these individuals was not, in any way, an act of law enforcement, and we must demand justice and accountability…. The Tennessee Highway Patrol stands ready to assist the city and citizens of Memphis in any way we can.”
Attorneys and family of Tyre Nichols spoke at a press conference condemning what they described as the “systematic trouble” of “police culture” and called for “Justice For Tyre.” They also asked for peace in Memphis after the video footage is released.
EDITORS NOTE: This story has been updated with new information.
WREG content contributed to this report.