Vice President Kamala Harris will attend Tyre Nichols funeral on Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee, the White House announced Tuesday.
According to a statement released by family attorney Ben Crump, Harris was invited to the funeral by Nichols’ parents, RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells. CNN confirmed that other senior level officials from the Biden administration will also be in attendance.
Harris spoke on the phone with Nichols’ parents on Tuesday for over 30 minutes, according to Crump’s statement, including some time just with Nichols’ mother.
“During this emotional time, the Vice President was able to console Ms. Wells and even helped her smile,” Crump said.
Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was arrested and brutally beaten by police officers during a traffic stop earlier this month. He sustained multiple injuries, and died three days later from cardiac arrest and kidney failure.
The Department of Justice and FBI are conducting an investigation into Nichols’ death.
Officials released body camera footage on Friday from the fatal incident, which showed the Memphis police officers pepper-spraying Nichols and beating him with batons and fists as he laid on the ground. The highly anticipated video spurred waves of protests in cities all over the country calling for accountability and police reform.
A few hours before the video was released, President Joe Biden released a statement calling for a transparent investigation into Nichols’ death and encouraging peaceful protests to hold law enforcement accountable.
“Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all,” he said in the statement.
He continued: “To deliver real change, we must have accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths, and we need to build lasting trust between law enforcement, the vast majority of whom wear the badge honorably, and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect.”
Harris and other political leaders joined the president’s call for accountability and transparency.
“The footage and images released tonight will forever be seared in our memories, and they open wounds that will never fully heal,” Harris said in a statement on Friday. “The persistent issue of police misconduct and use of excessive force in America must end now.”
The five officers involved in Nichols’ death were fired from the Memphis Police Department and charged with second-degree murder. Two were released on bond on Thursday. A sixth officer, two Shelby County deputies and two Memphis Fire Department workers have been disciplined for their involvement in Nichols’ arrest.
In their statements on Friday, Biden and Harris both called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — a police reform bill that would address a wide range of policing practices and law enforcement accountability. The bill, which passed in the House of Representatives in 2021, was named after a Black man whose death at the hands of law enforcement spurred widespread Black Lives Matter protests nationwide in 2020.