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'We have been here too many times': Northeast Ohio leaders react to video showing deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols

Five Memphis officers have been fired from the force and charged with murder in connection with Nichols' death.

CLEVELAND — On Friday, the Memphis Police Department in Tennessee released body and traffic camera footage showing the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols at the hands of several officers.

Nichols ended up in critical condition after police punched, kicked, hit, and pepper-sprayed him following a traffic stop on Jan. 7. The 29-year-old died in the hospital three days later, and five officers have since been fired from the force and charged with murder.

1/28 Update: A Vigil for Tyre Nichols has been organized and will take place on Sunday, January 29. The vigil will take place at the Free Stamp on East 9th and Lakeside at 6 p.m. Those attending are asked to bring candles and flashlights.

Reaction to the incident, both before and after the release of the footage, has been swift. Here in Northeast Ohio, local leaders have been sharing their thoughts on the situation.

Perhaps the most emotional response came from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who ironically is currently investigating the shooting death of Jayland Walker at the hands of Akron police. The AG strongly condemned the officers involved in Nichols' beating and claimed he cried when he watched the bodycam video.

U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown (D-11th District) tweeted out her condolences to Nichols' loved ones and called on colleagues to join her in efforts "to amplify and implement solutions developed by Black and brown leaders who know firsthand the impacts of our deeply flawed justice system."

Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb released the following statement:

"The video evidence released today in the beating death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis is horrifying. I am heartbroken for Tyre's family—his parents, his siblings, and his young son. No family should ever have to experience what they are going through right now.  

"We have been here too many times without achieving the change we so desperately need. 

"What happened in Memphis on January 7 lays bare what is at stake if we do not get police reform right. Despite heightened awareness and nationwide organizing and activism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, change is not happening fast enough. 

"We must do better, and it starts with real accountability, real oversight, and working in partnerships across our communities.  

"Here in Cleveland, the new Community Police Commission—established by Issue 24—met for the first time on Wednesday to begin their critical work as one of the strongest citizen oversight boards in the country. We believe that this is the beginning of a new era in constitutional policing, powered by people and set up for real and lasting change.  

"I join leaders from across the country in denouncing the brutality that took this young man’s life, in calling for peace as the investigations continue, and in asking for justice for Tyre Nichols and his loved ones."

The Cleveland City Council Leadership Team — made up of President Blaine A. Griffin, Majority Leader Kerry McCormack, and Majority Whip Jasmin Santana — echoed the mayor's sentiments:

"The Cleveland City Council leadership team extend condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Nichols and stands united in speaking out against police brutality. Staying silent contributes to the problem. Unfortunately, the incident in Memphis is not unique. ...

"Council leadership understands residents are frustrated and angry by the content of that video, and from other recorded violent encounters. The Cleveland Division of Police is committed to protecting the right for peaceful demonstration by community members.

"Cleveland is taking steps to foster better community-police relationships. These steps include legislation passed by Council in 2022 that requires the release of video footage within seven days of an incident involving a police officer’s use of deadly force, efforts to improve police-community relationships via the Community Relations Board, partnering with our consent decree monitor, and seating the newly formed Community Police Commission. Council appointed three members to the Commission and approved the appointment of the mayor's ten picks to the Commission.

"Working with the Cleveland Division of Police and community advocates, Council remains committed to building better community-police relationships in Cleveland."

Before the video was made public, City Hall also released a statement saying officials were "monitoring the ongoing protests" nationwide and that they were "not aware of any planned protests or related activities" in Cleveland.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers organization condemned Nichols' death as a "heinous and brutal murder" and expressed a desire "to continue to be part of the solution."

Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond shared the following message on Facebook: 

A Message from Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond The video footage of the officer involved incident that occurred...

Posted by Cleveland Police on Friday, January 27, 2023

Mentor Police Department: 

"The men and women of the Mentor Police Department are saddened at the death of Tyre Nichols which occurred earlier this month at the hands of five former officers in the Memphis Police Department.

We are sickened by the actions of these individuals and share in the collective disgust felt by the nation.  The brutality inflicted on Mr. Nichols is inexcusable and incomprehensible. They have betrayed their oath of office, disgraced our profession, and have degraded the reputation of every single officer in this nation who works selflessly each day to protect their community.

The five former officers have been criminally charged and will face a jury of their peers, at which time all evidence will be presented and justice will be dispensed.

We offer our condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Nichols in their time of grief.

Mentor Police officers remain committed to performing our duties in an ethical manner and dedicated to the preservation of human life and hold each other accountable to the department and to our beloved community."

Down in the Akron area, U.S. Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-13th District) had this to say:

"My sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of Tyre Nichols. I pray for them fervently and hope his family receives the justice they deserve.

"It is utterly unacceptable for a traffic stop to turn into a deadly interaction. Every public servant should treat everyone they serve with decency and respect.

"Whether it’s George Floyd, Jayland Walker or Tyre Nichols, I share in the collective outrage, pain, and resolve to ensure there are better outcomes, protections and accountability when encountering public employees, including, and especially, law enforcement."

3News will continue to update this story with more reactions as they come in.

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