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Gov. Polis, multiple law enforcement agencies react to release of Tyre Nichols' footage

Gov. Polis, multiple law enforcement agencies react to release of Tyre Nichols' footage
Gov. Polis, multiple law enforcement agencies react to release of Tyre Nichols' footage 01:55

Multiple law enforcement agencies and Governor Jared Polis issued strong statements on the release of the bodycam footage that showcased the violent arrest and death of 29-year-old, Tyre Nichols.

The footage initially shows Nichols being arrested by five former Memphis police officers, who were a part of the SCORPION Unit. The video sent nationwide outrage and prompted mostly non-violent protests around the U.S.

Memphis PD's SCORPION Unit, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods is a special task force deemed for patrolling high-crime areas throughout the city. 

Since news broke surrounding the death of Nichols' the SCORPION Unit has been deactivated after receiving vigorous backlash, according to a statement released from the department.

The officers attempted to arrest Nichols, during a traffic stop, who showed to be complying with officers until he fell in fear for his life. Officers pursued Nichols, caught up to him and he was then beaten by the five officers which was displayed by the halo camera at the scene. 

More information surrounding Tyre Nichols video released 01:39

Before the footage was released to the world, the five former Memphis officers were fired and are now facing second-degree murder charges. All officers involved pleaded not in the case, each deputy is Black. 

From left, former Memphis police officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean are seen in a combination of undated photographs. They were terminated after their involvement in a traffic stop that ended wi
Memphis Police Department/Handout via Reuters

After the video was released, many took to Twitter and other social media pages to express their condolences, while asking for immediate justice and change in policing all over the nation. 

Aurora's new police chief Art Acevedo issued a statement on the behalf of the Aurora Police Department, calling for immediate action of the officers involved, while sending support. 

"Law enforcement is and should be held to the highest standard and when an officer violates those high standards, it cast a shadow over the hundreds of thousands of police who dutifully serve and are committed to their communities," he said in his statement. 

Gov. Polis also issued a statement on the incident sharing his thoughts on the footage and calls the crime against the officers, "senseless." 

"Violence have no place in our country or state, and communities. As we heal together during this difficult time, we must live our values, and we should all treat each other with respect and love we all deserve," Polis expressed in his statement released. 

Greeley and Colorado Springs Police Departments also sent out statements on the behalf of their officers last night calling for justice for the Nichols family. 

"The mission of Greeley Police Department is to proudly work with you, the citizens, to protect our community. This is done with integrity, accountability, and most importantly, through principled relationships," said chief of police, Adam Turk, in his press release. 

Colorado Springs' deputy chief Adrian Vasquez issued a video response addressing the incident, while discussing his overall expectations for not only law enforcement in his unit, but nationwide. 

In the video footage, Nichols is heard saying he just wants to go home. He was less than 100 yards from his mother's house.

Additional Statement

The following is a jointly released statement from the Colorado Black and Latino Caucuses about the murder that was released on Jan. 31:

We, the members of Colorado's Black and Latino caucuses grieve for Tyre Nichols, his family, and his community. We mourn with Memphis, we ache, we are angry. In our pain and anger, we offer not just thoughts and prayers, but a renewed commitment to action that will upend the policy choices that led to Tyre's death– policy choices that will lead to the next preventable police killing if we do not change course swiftly.

Racism– from the implicit and internalized bias that our lives, our bodies, and even our homes are so worth less than others'– is perceived to be tolerable, or without consequence. The events in Memphis highlight a culture that is so deep and pervasive that it supplants moral hierarchies like taking care of your own community. This is a result not of rogue bad actors, but of a system that is complicit in funding, facilitating, and fomenting such lethal outcomes for Black civilians in Tennessee, in Colorado, and nationwide.

Officers being swiftly dismissed from their jobs and charged for their alleged crimes is necessary, but we must set the bar higher. We hope these steps toward justice are due to the recognition of the cruelty behind the imbalance of power that is police brutality, not because of the perpetrators' persuasion. We hope this example of diligence will apply to all who dare to behave this grievously in the future.

Thousands live with the anxiety of how they will be treated if accosted by law enforcement. In 2020 Colorado ranked 5th in the nation for Black deaths at the hands of police. The anxiety manifests in poor physical and mental health of the Black and Latino communities. This is a public health and public safety concern. Our state's definition of safety should confront the reality that many feel not only insecure in walking, driving, or going to sleep in their home, but also in calling for help without having to risk bodily harm or death. That is why the Black and Brown caucuses will continue to fight for accountability and safety efforts that address root causes of harm and not policies designed to maintain the status quo.

In a state that prides ourselves on enacting data-driven legislation, it's time to legislate our values. We call on public support to encourage our colleagues to do the same.

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