Your narrator was flattered to be asked to visit Watters’ World with Jesse Watters to opine on the breaking news re: the release of the Tyre Nichols video from Memphis. I was on-air with Jesse when we both were seeing portions of the video for the first time. At the risk of stating the obvious, watching that live on-air for the first time was trying.
What can one say? The videos are awful. As I said on the show, the first thing that struck me was how poor the tactics were. The encounter begins with an officer screaming and yanking Tyre from the car. It is not clear that Tyre ever had a chance to comply (but that said: there is likely video preceding this part that we did not see).
When trying to gain compliance, police are taught to “ask, tell, make.” From what I saw, these cops went right to “make” — screaming all the while. Not exactly a formula for de-escalation.
The use of non-lethal devices on a non-compliant subject is generally proper. But that deployment is not intended to fully incapacitate the subject — it’s to simply allow the officers to gain enough of an upper hand to handcuff and remove him to the precinct or the hospital. The cops here appeared to have had ample opportunity to at least attempt that. Yet never in the video that I saw did a set of handcuffs appear.
I also have significant procedural questions. Why were so many members of a specialized unit together in one place? Were they on an operation? Or just hanging out together? Did one unit call the other unit over? For a traffic stop?
Or are the Memphis SCORPION units (the special anti-crime unit these five officers belonged to) constituted with five cops together? That would be highly unusual.
Then: How long until a supervisor arrived on scene? Why did it reportedly take over 20 minutes for EMS to arrive? Did anyone attempt to render aid before EMS arrived?
And then finally, there is the failure of leadership. In the end, I think that much of this is going to come down to not only the horrendous actions of the cops involved, but also to poor supervision and leadership from their overhead. The Chief of Police, CJ Davis, has been handling the incident by triangulating against the officers — putting herself above the fray.
Of course the officers had to be fired, and indicted. But where are the calls for a review of the Memphis PD’s training? Of the supervision over a specialized unit? Of the structural makeup of a unit that was apparently rolled out with much fanfare? (There was in fact a press conference announcing it). All of that comes from the top.
The Memphis Mayor should be giving press statements on all this. And if he won’t, the Tennessee Governor should initiate a review of the Department, top to bottom. And frankly, Chief Davis’s job should be on the line.
But what we don’t need: DOJ. These cops are going to be tried for murder by the state. Let them do it. The DOJ Civil Rights Division is perhaps the most politicized entity in the agency (and that is saying something). So despite their (predictable) press conference today, Garland and Wray should stay out of it.
I have some other questions as well. Why are the city’s autopsy results not released? Can the fatal blows be pinpointed? Is there other video that shows what likely killed him?
Lastly: Are all five officers fully culpable, criminally? Will the prosecution seek to cooperate one (or more)?
Many of these questions should be resolved in the coming weeks. But as ever, strong, effective leadership is the ultimate force-multiplier. We need it down there now. It’s not going to come from Washington, that’s for sure.
Update: Just received this from a friend. This is by far the clearest representation of what occurred in the closing moments of the fight. Caution: It’s pretty brutal. Some of what occurred here could certainly have proven fatal, seems to me. (Also: Near the end, the cops seem to be saying, “He’s on something. He’s on something”
A final note: Your narrator will be on Fox News beginning at noon ET and at various other points throughout the weekend…. And join us on The Trey Gowdy Show Sunday night to discuss the South Carolina Murdaugh case.
Until then: be safe. And let’s hope for calm.