DENVER (KDVR) — Before the video came out, area leaders in law enforcement reacted to the arrest of the officers involved in the case of Tyre Nichols of Memphis.
Police in Colorado said they were glad that officers who committed these alleged crimes against Tyre Nichols are being held accountable, but they hope the incident does not spur distrust in the community.
Denver chief: Tyre Nichols case ‘very troubling’
“To know that individuals that are sworn to protect the public from harm actually harmed the community, that is actually very troubling to me. But I am glad to see they are being held accountable, that this accountability process acted very swiftly,” Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said.
Thomas said he had not seen the video of the arrest of Tyre Nichols ahead of its release Friday evening from Memphis officials, but he is troubled by what may be in them and the public’s reaction. He is not alone.
Aurora chief: ‘We should denounce this conduct’
Interim Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo called the actions of the five former Memphis police officers, who are charged with second-degree murder in the arrest that led to Nichols’ death, disturbing.
“Whether you are wearing a uniform, whether you are Black, white, male or female, we should denounce this conduct as Americans above all else,” Acevedo told FOX31.
Police organizations ‘share the concern and grief’
The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, Colorado Fraternal Order of Police and County Sheriffs of Colorado said they share the concern and grief of the nation at the loss of Nichols in a statement:
“The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, Colorado Fraternal Order of Police and County Sheriffs of Colorado share the concern and grief of the nation at the loss of Tyre Nichols and condemn in the strongest possible terms any excessive or unjustified force against any member of our communities. As organizations that work every day to create safer and healthier communities, we appreciate the diligent investigation and process that has resulted in criminal allegations against the officers charged with Mr. Nichols’ death as law enforcement professionals pursue swift, fair and transparent justice.
Public trust is critical to the work peace officers do every day to protect our communities and respond to crises. Colorado’s law enforcement professionals are committed to the training and transparency required to serve communities as we strive to make Colorado safe for all.
Criminal charges are merely allegations. Every person charged is presumed innocent as a matter of law.”The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, Colorado Fraternal Order of Police and County Sheriffs of Colorado
Could 2020 protests happen all over again?
The Denver Police Department faced lawsuits after protesters were injured by police flashbang grenades in 2020. Thomas said he does not anticipate similar action in the event of future protests, thanks to more police training.
“We learned a lot of things during the George Floyd protests, and so I don’t anticipate that we will see a similar reaction here. I do believe we have trained our officers to respond differently. We have learned things as far as how to manage crowds,” Thomas said. “I don’t anticipate our response will be anything like it was during the George Floyd protest situation and I’m quite hopeful, actually, that our relationship with the community is in a place where they won’t be inclined to express their anger at the Denver Police Department. Although, I certainly will understand that they are angry at the institution of law enforcement, because this is something that should not have happened.”
The Nichols family called for calm ahead of the video release. Thomas said as a member of the Denver community and outraged at the behavior displayed in the video, he feels inclined to stand with the community in this moment.