Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Saturday spoke out about the nation’s latest high-profile police killing, calling it a “painful reminder” of the problems that continue to plague law enforcement.
“The vicious, unjustified beating of Tyre Nichols and his ultimate death at the hands of five Memphis police officers is just the latest, painful reminder of how far America still has to go in fixing how we police our streets,” the couple said in a joint Twitter post.
Nichols, 29, died three days after he was repeatedly beaten and pepper-sprayed by a group of officers in the Tennessee city during a traffic stop on Jan. 7. All five have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder.
Body-camera video released Friday shows the apparent disregard that officers had for Nichols’ life as they punched him, kicked him, and struck him with a baton multiple times.
“I’m just trying to go home,” Nichols told police at one point. A Taser was also deployed at Nichols as he tried to flee.
“I hope they stomp his ass,” an officer can be heard saying on video.
In a follow-up tweet, Barack Obama posted a link to the Obama Foundation that outlines ways to support Nichols’ family.
“Along with mourning Tyre and supporting his family, it’s up to all of us to mobilize for lasting change,” the former president wrote.
On Friday, President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death.”
Last year, Biden released a 2023 budget proposal requesting $35 billion “to support law enforcement” and to pay for 100,000 new officers.
“We should all agree, the answer is not to defund the police,” Biden said during his State of the Union address on March 1. “It’s to fund the police.”