MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Along with the calls for immediate justice, the family of Tyre Nichols and their attorneys are calling for policy changes within the Memphis Police Department to make sure that the events that led to the 29-year-old’s death never happen again.
“It’s a power trip. That's all it is with MPD, it’s a power trip,” said Kameron Blakely, who was a friend of Nichols. “Ya’ll was five deep in an unmarked car, ya’ll thought ya’ll had something going, it’s the weekend, ya’ll thought ya’ll had something hot. You just escalated something ya’ll shouldn’t’ve escalated and that's that is how it goes because MPD do bully folks like that.”
That’s how Blakely describes the traffic stop that led to Nichols’ death and the firing of five MPD officers.
He is one of many calling for reform within the police department Monday after Nichols’ family members and their attorneys described the video of his January 7th arrest.
“It’s a system problem,” said Memphis resident Jennifer Cain. “It doesn’t matter if the officers are black or white, it’s the system.”
“The young man was scared because of all the crime that's going on in our city and they were in an unmarked car and dressed ordinarily as individuals and not in police attire, and not in a police car,” said Rosemary Winters, State Executive Committeewoman for District 33. “I would have ran myself.”
Monday night, in the Hickory Hill neighborhood where Nichols lived, Councilwoman Patrice Robinson hosted a neighborhood community meeting, where many members of the public had questions about what changes MPD would be making following Nichols death.
“We as a department, we are revisiting our training,” said MPD Col. Dennis McNeil. “I think we have excellent training now. I think you can have all the training you want but when it comes to individual people who make bad judgments, then those individuals need to be held accountable for what they do.”
Col. McNeil personally apologized to Nichols' family and said the actions from those few officers are not indicative of the entire police department.
Councilwoman Robinson says she and her colleagues are committed to being part of the change.
“My heart goes out to this mother and her family because it could’ve been my son. It could’ve been anybody’s son,” she said. “We don’t want that to happen. Never. Not anywhere in Memphis or anywhere in the United States.”
Any administrative changes will have to come on the part of MPD, but Councilwoman Robinson says they want to be involved in any legislative changes in the future.