Tyre Nichols’ Family Says death must galvanize efforts to reform police

(Reuters) – The attorney representing the family of Tyre Nichols, the Black man who was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers, called on Sunday for the U.S. Congress to pass police reform legislation, and said Nichols’ mother hoped the tragedy could lead to a “greater good.”

“Shame on us if we don’t use his tragic death to finally get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed,” Ben Crump told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

All five officers are scheduled to appear for a bond arraignment on Feb. 17 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge James Jones of the Shelby County criminal court, court records show. 

Crump said he and the Nichols family had spoken with President Joe Biden on Friday and urged him to use Nichols’ death to galvanize support for the act’s passage.

Nichols’ mother was coping with her son’s death by believing he was destined to change the world, Crump said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

“She believes in her heart Tyre was sent here for an assignment and that there is going to be greater good that comes from this tragedy.”

The “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” was introduced in 2021 after George Floyd died when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes, sparking worldwide protests over racial injustice.

The bill, which aims to stop aggressive law enforcement tactics, passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives in 2021 but stalled in the Senate. Biden on Thursday called on Congress to send the legislation to his desk.

Nichols’ death is the latest high-profile example of police using excessive force against Black people and other minorities. Crump said Nichols’ death should finally prompt lawmakers to act.

“It is this culture that says, `It doesn’t matter whether the police officers are Black or Hispanic or white, that it is somehow allowed for you to trample on the constitutional rights of certain citizens from certain ethnicities and certain communities,`” Crump said on CNN.

Republican House of Representatives Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” cautioned against rushing into new legislation to create new mandates for police.

“These five individuals did not have any respect for life. And again, I don’t think these five guys represent the vast, vast majority of law enforcement. But I don’t know if there’s anything you can do to stop the kind of evil we saw in that video,” he said.

Five officers, all Black, are charged with Nichols’ murder after video captured on bodycams and a street surveillance camera showed them violently confronting Nichols on Jan. 7.

Nichols, 29, was hospitalized and died of his injuries three days later in the city where he lived with his mother and stepfather and worked at FedEx.

The Memphis Police Department on Saturday disbanded the SCORPION unit to which the officers belonged, as protests took place in U.S. cities a day after harrowing video of the attack was released.

The officers were charged on Thursday with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression in Nichols’ death and dismissed from the department.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson and Ahmed Aboulenein; Additional reporting by David Lawder, editing by Ross Colvin and Nick Zieminski)