Fresno leaders react to body cam footage of Tyre Nichols' arrest

Alyssa Flores Image
Saturday, January 28, 2023
Fresno leaders react to body cam footage of Tyre Nichols' arrest
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Pastors, Faith leaders and Community Leaders will be hosting a news conference following the release of the Tyre Nichols video.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley Pastors, Faith leaders and Community Leaders hosted a news conference following the release of the Tyre Nichols video.

Video footage was made public on Friday showing five Memphis police officers beating Nichols during a traffic stop. The 29-year-old died three days following the beating on January 7.

Police say he was initially pulled over for alleged reckless driving, before fleeing on foot and being confronted again.

All five officers were fired for their actions and now face second-degree murder charges.

During the press conference outside Fresno City Hall, members of the Fresno African American Clergy and Community Leadership, Mayor Jerry Dyer, Police Chief Paco Balderrama and District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp reacted to the footage of Nichols' arrest.

Pastor Booker T. Lewis called on local leaders and clergy to come together to condemn the police brutality against Nichols.

RELATED: Tyre Nichols death: As video of alleged police beating to be released, officials call for calm

"I think I am more hurt than angry after watching the video. That we still live in a society where depraved humanity can turn a traffic stop into a murder," said Pastor Lewis.

Dyer said as a former police chief himself, he applauded the Memphis Police Chief and Shelby County District Attorney for their swift action to fire and charge the officers with murder.

"No family should have to see their loved one brutally beaten and murdered. Especially by those who are entrusted to uphold the law," said Mayor Dyer. "After watching the body-worn video as well as the pole video that was presented today, my stomach was sickened."

Balderrama says he had a message for his officers after details of the video emerged.

"To continue being who we are. We would not tolerate something like that like what occurred in Memphis in Fresno," said Balderrama. "Every police officer that watches this video is disgusted. Because that is not what we do, it's not what we signed up to do. We are here to save and protect lives. Not take them."

As protests and demonstrations took place across the country, Pastor Lewis asked that in Fresno, people remain peaceful in their grief.

"We do want our protests to be considerate and kind while making a firm statement about how unacceptable this behavior as in Memphis," said Pastor Lewis.

In a statement sent out after the release of the video, Chief Balderrama once again strongly urged those who are planning to protest to do so peacefully.

"I have seen the video footage of the arrest of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. The actions captured in the video are not only criminal in nature, but also unprofessional, inexcusable, and reprehensible, and I stand by the swift and decisive responses made by Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis.

Like many in our community, I find the video very disturbing and difficult to watch. I am angered by the actions of these officers as they unjustifiably took a life and simultaneously hurt the perception of all law enforcement. Here in Fresno, we are proud of the measures we have made, and continue to make, to foster trust and a positive relationship with our community. We continually strive to improve our accountability, transparency, and enhancement of police services. We have taken an oath to protect our community, and we honor this privilege every single day. I want to assure you that the acts of the five former Memphis police officers do not represent those of us who proudly serve our community.

I encourage everyone who plans to exercise their right to protest, to do so peacefully and respectively. Everyone can agree that what happened was wrong. We want the message that the abuse of power, by anyone, is unacceptable to us all. But, we do not need to turn against each other at this time, but rather we need to stand together."

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