Demanding the Impossible: 71 Commands in 13 Minutes
[guest post by Dana]
Here is a link to the graphic videos of the moments leading up to the death of Tyre Nichols. The New York Times provides more details about the insane chaos that took place between Memphis police officers and Nichols on that fateful night in Memphis:
Police officers unleashed a barrage of commands that were confusing, conflicting and sometimes even impossible to obey, a Times analysis of footage from Tyre Nichols’s fatal traffic stop found. When Mr. Nichols could not comply — and even when he managed to — the officers responded with escalating force.
The review of the available footage found that officers shouted at least 71 commands during the approximately 13-minute period before they reported over the radio that Mr. Nichols was officially in custody. The orders were issued at two locations, one near Mr. Nichols’s vehicle and the other in the area he had fled to and where he would be severely beaten. The orders were often simultaneous and contradictory. Officers commanded Mr. Nichols to show his hands even as they were holding his hands. They told him to get on the ground even when he was on the ground. And they ordered him to reposition himself even when they had control of his body.
The report explains that there are protocols in place to diffuse these kinds of situations:
To mitigate the potential for escalation and confusion during police encounters, today’s police training typically calls for a single officer at the scene to issue clear and specific commands. It also requires police officers to respond professionally and proportionately to any perceived act of defiance.
But The Times’s review shows that the officers did the exact opposite, over and over.
The available footage does not show any sign that the officers present intervened to stop the aggressive use of force. If anything, it shows the contrary.
At one point, footage captured an officer saying “I hope they stomp his ass” after Mr. Nichols’s attempt to flee the scene.
Five officers have been fired for violating the department’s policy on the use of force, and are charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression and one count of aggravated assault. A sixth police officer has also been relieved of duty as the investigation continues.
I know that much has been said about the five officers being Black themselves. I don’t have the energy to do a deep dive into that, but consider this an open thread to discuss all aspects of the situation.
I would add that, given the frailty of the human condition, I believe everyone has the ability to behave in the vilest of ways if the circumstances are right.
I’m also reading a piece by Van Jones, who says that Blacks can be driven by racism too:Dana (1225fc) — 1/30/2023 @ 10:34 am
Lowering hiring standards sure did work out for Memphis.edoc118 (f6616a) — 1/30/2023 @ 11:32 am
Dana, this seems like another tragic example of poor policing. To me the race of the officers implies that the death is less a result of racial animus and more about our systemic approach to street policing. I think race plays a factor in that (as does economic status and gender) but I don’t think this happened primarily because of race.Time123 (30d232) — 1/30/2023 @ 11:47 am
When we move trees and boulders with a crane we have 1 person who communicates with the crane operator. The lead person has to be able to distill a lot of information to the crane operator or someone might get hurt. It seems the police had no one who was designated as being the leader.
It is impossible to comply with every order barked by several cops. They get increasingly individually pissed because their order isn’t being followed or was changed and now think best thing to do with conflicting orders is pick the most submissive one is each sequence.
One of the things that guys who know they are going to County regardless do is run, refuse to follow any orders, struggle, because showing up dinged up by cops is a status thing. A gangster in for a DUI might fight the blood draw out of misguided principle. I can’t justify what the Memphis police did at all and don’t know what Tyre Nichols was trying to do but can see how jaded the police were and how they played their role in the dance with too much enthusiasm.steveg (87717e) — 1/30/2023 @ 12:27 pm
Training and culture…..and probably too low of standards. Of those fired, the ages ranged from 24 to 32 with most starting in Memphis after 2017, so I would not think burn-out could be any kind of excuse.
Now running and resisting will generally never end well. But the notion that street justice or payback is part of the job flows down from training and the department culture. Something has to change with qualified immunity. We also have to recognize that as we drag the prestige of policing down, the problem will only get worse as it gets tougher and tougher to find good people to join the force. It’s a job where you predominately see people at their worst which makes you assume the worst.
More and more training, and more consequences for when the training is ignored. All of that probably means for money and higher taxes. At the firing and charging was quick.AJ_Liberty (5f05c3) — 1/30/2023 @ 12:40 pm
Maybe their policy on paper but it was probably very much in line with their training. How could five policemen otherwise all go wrong?
It’s hard to piece this together, and I haven’t yet.
Memphis has an extremely high crime rate, and also a problem with drag racing. The SCORPION (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) unit was formed to drive down the crime rate, and it did succeed somewhat. It was a form of stop and frisk.
There were problems and complaints with the SCORPION unit
But till now nobody died, so they weren’t out to kill people.
They were probably instructed never to let anyone they intended to arrest escape. They may have taken Tyre Nichols for a professional criminal, (after he fled) and possibly they were out to meet a quota of stops.
It’s unclear why they stopped him. They told his mother afterwards that he was stopped for DWI (without I think telling her of his injuries – not sure) but later this was changed to driving erratically and was later said to be driving the wrong way on a 1-way street and nobody knows whether that is true or not.
You can blame this partially on Black Lives Matter – which scares people that the police are out to kill civilians. Even the bad police usually are not, (both Waco raids were an exception) and running away does not help. But they say that later Tyre Nichols tried to surrender and de-escalate but could not.
I would also say that the police using curse words is a very bad sign.Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/30/2023 @ 12:58 pm
The problems continued even after he was subdued. The EMS people were hesitant to do anything without the approval of the police, and they explained his condition by saying that he was on drugs. They may
have really believed this because they searched his car and his clothing for drugs. In their minds, there was no other reason for resistance.
A 6th policeman was relieved of duty but not fired. They won’t say exactly what the problem is.
https://www.newser.com/story/330956/6th-memphis-cop-in-nichols-case-faces-repercussions.htmlSammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/30/2023 @ 1:02 pm
The SCORPION police cars were often unmarked, the better to surprise people.
You can’t say it didn’t work: (or something did)
https://wreg.com/news/local/gun-safe-memphis/silent-nights-memphis-reporting-fewer-homicides-this-yearSammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/30/2023 @ 1:09 pm
I still haven’t gotten a good answer to these questions:Paul Montagu (8f0dc7) — 1/30/2023 @ 1:37 pm
(1) what exactly did Nichols do that caused the stop? They said “reckless driving” but we need to hear eyewitness accounts, preferably under oath.
(2) why did the officers go straight to GO and yank him out of the car and throw him down to the ground? Was he escaping or trying to evade getting pulled over?
To me, it was that first encounter that set the following series of events in motion.
Paul Montagu (8f0dc7) — 1/30/2023 @ 1:37 pm <blockquote I still haven’t gotten a good answer to these questions:
(1) what exactly did Nichols do that caused the stop? They said “reckless driving” but we need to hear eyewitness accounts, preferably under oath. Nobody knows. That probably means there is no good answer. He may have been driving around at random looking for a parking space. He was very close to home.
They did that because they probably did that all the time.Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/30/2023 @ 1:44 pm
The police may have assumed that he was cruising around looking to buy drugs, but of course that’s not a reason for a stop, so they had to say something else. Usually a pretextual stop would not wind up in court.Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/30/2023 @ 1:47 pm
“Lowering hiring standards sure did work out for Memphis.”
This is a popular right-wing talking point and it’s completely demented.
1. Two of the officers were hired before any change in standardsDavethulhu (16e358) — 1/30/2023 @ 2:03 pm
2. This was an “elite” unit within the police force, you don’t put your worst performing officers in it.
That’s because the police themselves don’t have a good answer.
Timelines here and here.Rip Murdock (d2a2a8) — 1/30/2023 @ 2:17 pm
More problems: A delay in medical attention for Nichols:Dana (1225fc) — 1/30/2023 @ 2:35 pm
And the five that do have the answers have lawyered up.Rip Murdock (d2a2a8) — 1/30/2023 @ 2:42 pm
That’s Preston Hemphill, one of the two officers who still remans suspended. The other ones name and anything about his role in the events, is still secret. Maybe it’s an officer who wrote the police report on the incident. The police report was inconsistent with the reality, as indicated by the footage.
Incidentally, the five fired and now indicted (with identical charges!) police officers were at first only suspended the next day, January 8, before Tyre Nichols died. (but they could have known, say, that he was brain dead)
The two EMTs were fired for failing “to conduct an adequate patient assessment” and their supervisor for never getting out of the fire truck.Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/31/2023 @ 1:18 pm
Hemphill’s firing a taser at Nichols got into the initial police report but not much else did.
The police report was leaked to someone who is in trouble with the law (and maybe anti-police) and more or less confirmed as accurate by the district attorney. (Bill O’Reilly says Memphis is a very corrupt place)
He was accused of violating an order of protection by mentioning her on Facebook and videos.Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/31/2023 @ 2:02 pm
Maybe it was leaked to him because he was a known enemy of the police – or the police department has spies in it.Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/31/2023 @ 2:06 pm
That last is from 2012.Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/31/2023 @ 2:07 pm
I didn’t encounter any explanation as to the obvious question as to why Tyre Nichols funeral took place so long after his death on January 10.
Was his family carrying out some kind of a strategy, or was it maybe that they simply didn’t have enough money? His body would not have been released so late.Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 2/2/2023 @ 4:33 pm