By Caleigh Carlisle
MEMPHIS, TN – During the funeral of Tyre Nichols, Benjamin Crump, Nichols’ family attorney, delivered a call to action, demanding police officers face swift accountability for killing Black people.
Nichols was pulled over by police officers in Memphis in early January for alleged “reckless driving.” During his arrest, video now shows Nichols was subjected to an intense beating. He was hospitalized in critical condition, and died three days after his encounter with law enforcement.
According to CNN, a preliminary independent autopsy commissioned by Nichols’ family concluded he had suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”
He is now representing the family of Nichols, and said during his funeral, “When we do a call to action, it really is a plea for justice… it is a plea for justice for Tyre Nichols, the human being.”
“When we watch [the videos],” Crump continued. “We don’t see the Memphis Police Department Scorpion Unit exhibit one ounce of humanity… why couldn’t they see the humanity in Tyre?”
According to the New York Times, Crump charged, “We have an opportunity… to really speak to this institutionalized police culture. It’s about police officers having this biased belief that you can get away with doing certain things to Black and brown citizens of America that you cannot get away with white citizens.”
Crump’s team has called for the city to immediately disband the Scorpion Unit, the unit that was involved in the traffic stop that led to Nichols’ death.
Crump pointed out during his speech that although justice had been delivered in just 20 days—the firing of five officers, who are now charged with murder and other crimes—it was likely because the officers involved in the death of Nichols were Black.
“When Stephon Clark was killed in Sacramento, California, it’s important that the community sees justice. too,” Crump said, referencing the death of 22-year-old unarmed Clark shot in his grandparent’s backyard as he held his cellphone, at the hands of two white police officers who were not charged with any crimes.
“When Eric Garner was killed in Staten Island, New York,” Crump continued, “it’s important that the community sees swift justice. too.” Garner died in 2014 due to suffocation after a police officer held him in an illegal chokehold. The white officers involved were once again not charged.