Friday’s release of footage from Tyre Nichols’s fatal traffic stop in Memphis earlier this month has justifiably sickened, saddened and horrified the nation. Images of Mr. Nichols being repeatedly kicked and beaten with batons is gruesome and unconscionable.
Five police officers have been fired and charged with second-degree murder. This week, two additional officers with a connection to the incident were taken off duty.
It’s difficult to watch the body cam footage, and painful to read about the details surrounding the incident. Accused of reckless driving, the 29-year-old was pulled from his car. The altercation unfolded over the course of 13 minutes. By one analysis, police gave Mr. Nichols 71 commands, many of which were difficult to understand. After running away from the officers at one point, he was apprehended, beaten again, and finally transported to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries three days later.
According to the video, Tyre Nichols’s last words were, “Mom, Mom, Mom.”
RowVaughn Wells is Tyre’s mother. “When I walked into the hospital, I saw my son,” she said. “I already knew what they did. I don’t need to see a video to show me what they did. I saw the end results. My son is dead.”
It’s impossible to fully appreciate a mother’s grief connected to such a tragedy. The prayers of a nation are extended to Ms. Wells.
Universal condemnation over such a crime is appropriate and needed. As a society, and especially as Christians, we must call out evil when we encounter it. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them,” urged the apostle Paul (Eph. 5:11). Jesus Himself noted the human tendency to cover up. “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed” (John 3:20).
It’s a grave matter when people in positions of authority violate public trust and take advantage of someone else. The sin needs to be confronted and exposed.
The responsibility for these violations always rests on the perpetrators. Yet, sin can be so toxic and pervasive that its wake upends plenty of other lives as well.
This incident adds yet one more burden to the backs of countless honorable law enforcement officers. Thankfully, American cities and towns are defended and protected by many good men and women. These individuals in the news are the exception. We give thanks for our many police officers who lay their lives on the line each day.
I hope you’ll join me in praying for the Nichols’ family, for justice, and for all those now impacted by the aftermath of this violence.