Memphis police are preparing to release the body camera video of the beating that led to the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols in early January.
In the past, peaceful and violent protests have sprung up in the wake of police killings. WINK News has reached out to local experts and law enforcement to find out if protests will happen this time and how law enforcement is preparing.
The release of the body camera video showing the moments leading up to the death of George Floyd sparked protests nationwide, including here in Southwest Florida.
“Has policing changed since the murder of George Floyd? No, it’s still the same thing,” said David Thomas, a professor of forensic studies and former law enforcement officer.
Like the rest of us, Thomas watched the response to Floyd’s killing. Some protested in silence others shouted out for justice.
Thomas points to the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols in Memphis as proof that nothing has changed. Nichols also died at the hands of the police.
“You made a traffic stop. Mr. Nichols got out, and he fled on foot. They chased him. And then, upon chasing him, he resisted. And then they tased him, they pepper-sprayed him, and they beat him,” Thomas said.
Like the Minneapolis cop who murdered George Floyd, the five Memphis officers who killed Nichols now face murder charges.
“This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane. And in the vein of transparency, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves,” said Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis.
Davis gave a glimpse into what the country will see Friday when the city releases the video. Nichols’ mother, who’s seen the video, called it horrific. It will show five police officers in uniform beating Nichols so badly that he died three days later.
Memphis is bracing for protests. Thomas thinks Southwest Florida is too.
“You’ll have extra resources standing by; you’ll have officers prepared to go with riot gear if need be. You’ll have, too, additional regular services, more police response to normal calls. And then you’ll have a contingent of officers ready to respond. If there is a riot or something that breaks out if unrest works out,” said Thomas.
WINK News reached out to local law enforcement agencies to ask if they were doing anything to prepare for local protests following the release of the body camera video.
The Fort Myers Police Department shared a statement, saying:
The Fort Myers Police Department is watching the events unfold in Memphis, Tennessee, along with the rest of the nation.
The FMPD can assure our community members we are committed to policing in a constitutional and professional manner that protects the rights of all.
The Fort Myers Police Department continuously attends ongoing training to ensure we are current with ever changing case law, technology, tactics, and fair and impartial policing.
Together, alongside our community we continue our mission to provide some of the most effective and efficient policing in Florida.
In closing, FMPD always stands ready to ensure anyone who wants to exercise their first amendment right has a safe place to do that. We have a successful history of working with protesters to ensure their voices are heard while keeping them and our community safe. We urge anyone who wants to exercise their rights to do so peacefully.
Naples police said, “The Naples Police Department is prepared and trained for incidents such as this, however the department has no information on any such planned incident in our area.”
The Cape Coral Police Department also responded but only said, “We have nothing to provide.”