SouthCoast Police React to Tyre Nichols Beating Death in Memphis
Police on the SouthCoast are responding to the beating death of a Memphis man, allegedly at the hands of police officers, following a traffic stop earlier this month.
Five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith – are facing charges including second-degree murder and aggravated assault in the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.
Memphis Police say a "confrontation occurred" during a traffic stop on January 7, 2023, and Nichols ran from police. According to police, "While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended."
Nichols died three days later at a hospital.
Area police officials are angry by what happened in Memphis.
Dartmouth Police Chief Brian P. Levesque said, "I, like many other public safety officials, am appalled by the actions of all of the personnel involved in the Memphis incident."
"Their egregious actions not only led to the death of a civilian but also once again brought negative attention to a profession brimming with honest and meritorious individuals who work extremely hard to set a good example while protecting and serving their respective communities," he said.
New Bedford Police Chief Paul Oliveira agreed.
"When officers tarnish their badge, they also tarnish the badges of all of us committed to the betterment of the profession," he said.
"I'm sure every officer in New Bedford and every devoted officer in America is disappointed at the actions of these five officers," Oliveira said. "We are well aware of the ripple effect this will have on our profession."
Oliveira hopes the incident will not "damage the relationship we have built within our community or the recruitment efforts that we have put forward."
"I can assure the residents of New Bedford that the men and women who proudly serve the NBPD are committed to policing with professionalism, dignity, and respect," he said.
Fairhaven Police Lt. Kevin Kobza said if excessive force was used, it cannot be tolerated.
"What separates the police from the criminals is our compassion and selfless caring for all human beings," he said. "This includes honesty, integrity, and restraint."
"When a person is in our care and custody, whether it be someone we are protecting or an arrestee, we are obligated as police officers, and we are bound by the laws of nature and of man to ensure they are kept safe," Kobza said.
"Excessive force by a police officer, a most trusted member of society, is never acceptable, and can never be tolerated," he said.
New Bedford Police Union President Chris Cotter reserved judgment until more information is released.
"Without seeing the facts of the incident, it's hard to provide any insight as to what happened. If facts show negligence or a crime, the officers will have the judicial system make the determination as to their fate," he said.
"As we have seen far too many times, individuals are tried in the media before all facts are presented," he said.
"We, collectively as law enforcement, work hard in our profession, and many put us all in a collective view. We are all individuals, and unless there are facts showing all are bad, judge individual actions as that, individual actions," Cotter said.