Lowcountry, state leaders react to protests in wake of Tyre Nichols video

Police Chief Luther Reynolds said the incident goes against everything the Charleston Police Department stands for.
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 9:39 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2023 at 3:11 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Police agencies across the country are responding to the release of body cam footage showing disturbing video of Tyre Nichols being brutally beaten by five Memphis police officers.

Law enforcement agencies across the Lowcountry and the state have released statements following the release of the videos.

Five former Memphis police officers, who are all Black, were charged Thursday with murder and other crimes in the killing of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died after a confrontation with the officers. Police say Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving on Jan. 7. A confrontation occurred and pepper spray was used before Nichols fled on foot.

The five officers beat Nichols and inflicted serious injuries that led to his death three days later.

MORE: Memphis authorities release graphic video showing police officers beating Tyre Nichols

Five former police officers were charged Thursday with murder and other crimes in the killing...
Five former police officers were charged Thursday with murder and other crimes in the killing of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died three days after a confrontation with the officers during a traffic stop.

Before the video was released Friday night, Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said the incident goes against everything the Charleston Police Department stands for.

“My reaction as a professional is just would never condone... In fact, I condemn this type of behavior. I think it’s very important to say that. I can’t take credit for what other organizations do, but I’m also not going to take the blame for what someone does in Memphis. It’s important for us to talk about everything we stand for in the City of Charleston and why we do what we do. We are the community. We’re part of the community. I love being here in the city of Charleston and working with all of the people that are here.”

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief, Mark Keel, released this statement following the release of the video:

The murder of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers is shocking and disgusting. Police officers must be held to the highest standard. The unspeakable actions of these officers erase the many positive strides law enforcement has made in communities across the country in recent years. Police officers who choose to betray the oath they are sworn to uphold should be criminally charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Law enforcement is an honorable profession, but the actions of these five officers tarnish the badge of every officer who is committed to policing with professionalism, integrity, respect, and compassion. I understand that people are upset. I am upset, too. I fully support your right to protest peacefully so that your voices can be heard. I urge any protest to remain peaceful and lawful. I commit to you that the law enforcement community in South Carolina will continue to build positive relationships with the communities we serve. Any officer who breaks the law will be held accountable.

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano released a statement following the release of the video:

The excessive use of force and lack of intervention by these police officers are deeply troubling, upsetting and unprofessional. I commend the swift investigative and legal actions taken by authorities at the local, state and federal levels.

The death of Tyre Nichols is horrifying but does not serve as a reflection of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who uphold the norms and standards of our profession with integrity and honor each day across our nation.

We can and we must work together with our community to continue to heal and have conversations that will bring us together.

North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess also released a statement saying:

As a father, I am saddened and horrified at the death of Mr. Tyre Nichols as the result of his encounter with several officers of the Memphis Police Department (TN). I have a son close to Tyre’s age, so I can only imagine their pain. My heart goes out to his family and friends during this difficult time.

As Chief of Police and a law enforcement professional, I am disturbed by the actions of those officers of the Memphis Police Department. I applaud Chief Cerelyn Davis (Memphis Police Department) and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office for the swift termination and charging of these officers. In our profession, we must instill in our officers the sanctity of human life and their duty to intervene.

The importance of community policing cannot be stressed enough. Mutual respect must be in place to have an effective partnership with our community. Senseless deaths like that of Tyre undermine our efforts and negate the progress we have made to build a better relationship with our citizens.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Tyre Nichols, the City of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department.

United States Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) released the following statement on the death of Tyre Nichols:

My heart is with the Nichols family as they grapple with the reprehensible death of their son, father, and friend Tyre. The death of Tyre Nichols was the result of a clear, vile abuse of power, and the unwarranted torture of a man already in handcuffs should lead to swift, decisive action.

“We have been here too many times before. We cannot continue down this path. America cannot stand silent. This was a man beaten by the power of the state. We must unite against this blatant disregard for human life especially from those we trust with immense power and responsibility.

“This footage is jarring and unnerving. We cannot let the pain of the Nichols family be in vain. Let us listen to their plea to make our voices heard peacefully and in a productive way that forwards the cause of justice and a more just America. Let it serve as a call to action for every lawmaker in our nation at every level. The only way to bring light from darkness is to be united.