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Baton Rouge NAACP says state should change procedures after 5 Memphis officers arrested for death of Tyre Nichols
A surveillance camera captured police officers in Memphis holding Tyre Nichols down as other officers kicked and beat him with a baton early this month.
"It's getting tougher and tougher to watch those videos in its entirety," said Eugene Collins, president of NAACP BR.
The Memphis Police Department released four video clips of the deadly arrest Friday evening. The five former officers seen in the video were fired and arrested. They face several charges, including aggravated kidnapping, assault and second-degree murder.
"We've seen people in Louisiana get beat to death on the side of the road, not have anywhere near the charges we saw in Memphis. It was some disappointment, mixed with a little shock, anger at the same time," Collins said.
Collins and attorney Tiara Jones say they were glad to see the excessive force being addressed, but they say officers need to be held accountable more often.
"I feel that Baton Rouge—the entire Louisiana—should use this instance as a reference to what needs to happen in the criminal, legal system when it comes to police officers using excessive force to the point where someone is killed," Jones said.
Louisiana is no stranger to excessive force cases, including the 2016 death of Alton Sterling and the 2019 death of Ronald Greene. Both men died in the hands of law enforcement.
Officers were not charged for the death of Sterling, but the city-parish did pay a settlement. Several state troopers are now facing charges for the death of Greene.
"Memphis is the poster child, for lack of better terms, of how the legal system should work. We should never have to wait for videos of police brutality, or beg for videos of police brutality, for years and years in order for police officers to be arrested," Jones said.
Collins says that since Sterling's death, he's seen policing change here in Baton Rouge, but there is still room for growth.
"Officers sitting at home today saying, 'That ain't me. That ain't how I do my job.' He's right, she's right about that... But at the same time, understanding the community member that thinks this is how police officers are, and if we can have that understanding for one another, I think this is something else that we can get through," Collins said.
Four other officials in Tennessee are on leave as the investigation continues into Nichols' death.
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