The Memphis police chief and county prosecutor were praised on Friday for moving swiftly to take legal action against the five former officers who are suspected of killing Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man.
Crump stated during a news conference, “We look at how quickly the district attorney brought charges against them in less than 20 days.”
“We want to state unequivocally that this is the model for future instances in which any officers—Black or White—will be held accountable. We can no longer be told to wait for six to twelve months.”
In a traffic stop on January 7, police stopped Nichols. He was critically ill when taken to the hospital and passed away on January 10.
An inquiry into civil rights was started by federal officials on January 18. Following their dismissal on January 20, the cops were arrested on Thursday and charged with murder and other offenses.
Amazingly Quick and Strange
Crump drew attention to the disparity between the speed with which charges were filed against the Black officers in this case and the time that elapsed in other police killings involving white officers, such as the 2014 murder of a Black 17-year-old boy named Laquan McDonald by a white Chicago police officer.
According to Jason Williams, assistant professor of justice studies at Montclair State University in New Jersey, “in incidents like this involving white cops, a drawn-out inquiry often ensues before a conclusion on charges.”
Accordingly, “the immediate response these cops are getting is on par with the experience of African Americans dealing with the criminal court system.”
More than 1,000 individuals are killed by police every year, including a disproportionately high number of Black Americans, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings since 2015.
According to Jorge Camacho, policy director of the Yale Law School Justice Collaboratory in Connecticut, data on subsequent accountability isn’t “widely tracked.”
He noted that the charging of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin days after the murder of George Floyd would be the closest comparison, calling the charges in Nichols’ death “remarkably rapid and uncommon.”
The availability of video evidence and the fact that Mr. Nichols passed away, according to Camacho, contributed to the expedited prosecution of these five cops.
Since the victim does not typically pass away in reports of police brutality, the officer’s version “tends to have more weight,”, especially in the absence of video proof.
Camacho issued a warning that holding the Memphis cops accountable alone is “insufficient” and urged the public to also hold the larger agency accountable.
Here is a list of recent, prominent Black American police homicides, along with information on how long it took departments and prosecutors to take action if any.
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On April 11, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer Kimberly Potter fatally shot Daunte Wright, age 20. The following day, the city made a medical examiner’s report and some video public.
On April 13, Potter and the police commissioner resigned. On April 14, Potter was accused, and he was found guilty of manslaughter in December.
On June 12, 2020, Rayshard Brooks, 27, was fatally shot by Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe. The police chief left his position the following day, Rolfe was let go, and another involved officer was placed on administrative leave. After Rolfe was later restored, the prosecution declared that both policemen would not be charged in August.
Police in Minneapolis shot and killed George Floyd, 46, on May 25, 2020, while he was being arrested. The event was captured on video, which spread swiftly online. One cop, Derek Chauvin, was detained and charged on May 29.
The other three involved police were fired the next day. Days later, charges were brought against the other cops. In April 2021, Chauvin received a death sentence. Additionally, last December, he entered a guilty plea to federal civil rights charges.
In February, the additional policemen responsible for Floyd’s civil rights violation were found guilty. Two of the cops entered pleas of guilty to state crimes, while one of them opted to let the judge choose his fate.
In March 2020, Louisville police fatally shot 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. One of the policemen, Brett Hankison, was let go by the department in June.
Hankison was charged in September by a state grand jury with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, but he was exonerated in 2022.
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In such accusations, Taylor wasn’t regarded as the victim. Four of the policemen were charged in August by the Justice Department, and one admitted to some of the accusations.
At the time of his arrest on April 12, 2015, Freddie Gray, 25, was killed by Baltimore police officers. Six officers were fired the day after his death, which occurred on April 19.
On May 1, the cops were accused by the prosecution. On May 21, a grand jury filed the majority of the charges against the policemen.
Three of the cops were exonerated, three of the officers’ trials resulted in mistrials, and the accusations against the other two officers were dismissed. The Justice Department decided against filing charges at the federal level in September 2017.