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Mayor Scott: 'I felt broken' after watching police video showing arrest of Tyre Nichols

Mayor Brandon Scott talks to WJZ about Tyre Nichols
Mayor Brandon Scott talks to WJZ about Tyre Nichols 08:56

BALTIMORE -- Maryland officials expressed sorrow and outrage following the release of police video showing the conflict between Tyre Nichols and Memphis officers prior to his death.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore issued a statement after viewing the body-worn camera footage showing the conflict, noting that it was difficult not to fight back tears.

"The inhumanity that was shown to Tyre Nichols, a young skateboarder and amateur photographer, is intolerable by anybody, but especially by people whose job and responsibility it was to protect him," Moore said. "I'm thankful that the Department of Justice is engaged in this investigation, and these five individuals must be held to account for their barbarism."

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown said in a social media post that the police video made him grieve for the American community, "which still has far to travel to reach justice for all."

"The videos, and the horrors they portray, have been felt here in Maryland and across the nation," Brown said. "Protesting injustice is a proud American tradition, and I stand with you in peaceful opposition to the violence and degradation portrayed in these videos."

Prince George's County State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy said her heart went out to Nichols' family.

"What makes his death even more unconscionable is that five individuals who were sworn to uphold the law were responsible for this tragedy," she said. "The videos are graphic and heartbreaking; however, the public has a right to know the actions that the former officers took on that fateful day."

In Annapolis, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said he felt sorrow after watching "Nichols' violent arrest."

"We saw the worst of humanity in the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers, and we saw the best of humanity in the response of his mother, Mrs. RowVaughn Wells." 

In Baltimore, city officials issued a statement in response to the released body camera footage.

Baltimore City State's Attorney Ivan Bates, Mayor Brandon Scott, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, and the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement Director Shantay Jackson issued a joint statement addressing the potential reaction to the camera footage.

"The death of Tyre Nichols is a stark reminder of the brutality Black people continue to face daily in this country and how much work remains for us to value Black American lives," the joint statement said. "Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones as they mourn the loss of their son and demand justice for his untimely death. His family should not have to endure the heartache of losing a loved one at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve their community."  

The footage underscores "the immediate need for nationwide police reform policy and practices to enshrine constitutional and ethical law enforcement," the statement said.

"For those who may choose to grieve or begin their healing processes by exercising their 1st Amendment right to protest, we encourage you to honor the wishes of the Nichols family and do so without the further perpetuation of violence and trauma. With this in mind, we will be partnering to ensure that a safe environment exists for everyone."

Nichols was stopped by officers for reckless driving on Jan. 7, according to a statement from the Memphis Police Department.

The 29-year-old father got into a "confrontation" with the officers before he fled, police said. A second confrontation occurred at some point before he was ultimately arrested, according to authorities..

Police said that, following the arrest, Nichols "complained of having a shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called." 

Nichols was taken to a hospital in critical condition, police said. 

Three days later, on Jan. 10, Nichols "succumbed to his injuries," the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said, but it did not elaborate on what those injuries were. An official cause of death has not been released.

Five former Memphis police officers have been fired and charged with murder in the death of Nichols.

In a separate video released Friday night, Harrison described the death of Nichols following the arrest as "deeply horrific" and "another example of a tragic encounter with law enforcement that has occurred in other cities—even here at home."

"What we saw in the video was truly heinous and does not represent the calling of our officers to serve and protect with respect and dignity as well as ethically and constitutionally," Harrison said. "I along with the leaders of this department are in full support of Memphis Police Department Chief C.J. Davis' decision to condemn the actions of these officers and terminate them. They are not an accurate representation of the profession of policing or our oath of office that we are each sworn to uphold."

Scott told WJZ during an interview that he felt angry and broken.

Mayor Scott: 'I felt broken' after watching police video showing arrest of Tyre Nichols 00:40

"This isn't the first time that we've seen a Black man being murdered on TV, on camera, in front of everybody," Scott said. "And when are we going to get to a point in this country where we actually truly value Black lives." 

But people are afraid to implement police reform and have conversations about race in America, he said. Underlying problems tied to both issues contributed to the death of Nichols, he said.

"This young man was murdered by five people posing as peacekeepers because they were not police officers," he said. "They were not keepers of the peace. They were the exact opposite."

Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police President Clyde Boatwright touted the state's police reform efforts in the hours following the release of the video. Maryland has "had historic police reform" over the past five years to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the state.

"What I witnessed in that video was horrific," he said. "It was a barbaric assault on another human being and is sickening," he said. "This does not represent policing or the men and women who wear a badge and dutifully protect their communities. I hesitate to even call these men police officers, because what I saw on that video is not policing. They deserve the strongest punishment allowed by Tennessee law."

Anne Arundel County Chief of Police Amal Awad also described the arrest as a "violent" encounter that led to "the senseless loss of a beloved son."   

"We are all left with feelings of grief, dismay, and trauma," she said.

Awad said the actions of the officers in Memphis were not representative of officers across the country.

"These five individuals' actions are not representative of the hundreds of thousands of law enforcement professionals who answer the call to serve, and who remain selflessly invested in our communities every day," she said.  

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