Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Reacts to Memphis Police Body Video


By Andrew Hensel | The Center Square

A Memphis Police Department BodyCam image at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, January 7, 2023 (SOURCE: Memphis Police Department)
A Memphis Police Department BodyCam image at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, January 7, 2023 (SOURCE: Memphis Police Department).

Illinois law enforcement officials are speaking out against a traffic incident that led to a Memphis man’s beating death.

In early January 2023, Memphis, Tennessee police pulled over 29-year-old Tyre Nichols for alleged reckless driving. The exchange led to a beating that resulted in Nichols’ death. Parts of the video from police-worn body cameras and surveillance cameras captured on January 7, 2023 were released to the public Friday night last week.

As a result of an investigation, Memphis officers Tadarrius Bean, 24, Emmitt Martin, III, 30, Desmond Mills, Jr., 32, Justin Smith, 28 and Demetrius Haley, 30, were all charged with the murder of Tyre Nichols. The five police officers were terminated earlier in January. Announced Monday, police officer Preston Hemphill was terminated on Monday, but initially did not face murder charges. A seventh unnamed police officer was also terminated earlier in January, and did not face murder charges.

Kenny Winslow, executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said while more facts still need to come out, the officers did not employ proper police tactics.

“Their [the officers] actions will be judged by a jury and rightfully so,” Winslow said. “I’m sure that they will spend a little time in prison if I was a guessing man, but it is one of those things where we don’t have all the facts, but I do not need all the facts to know that use of force is not what those in professional law enforcement use.”

Part of the SAFE-T Act approved at the Illinois statehouse requires Illinois police to wear body cameras at all times.

Winslow said even though the Memphis officers were wearing body cameras at the time of the beating, body cameras still could help reduce the chance of such incidents happening.

“What we saw in Springfield was that it helped paint a better picture out there, and it also helped curtail behavior and helped deescalate things,” Winslow said. “People who know they are being recorded typically change their behavior.”

In 2022, Illinois lawmakers approved $2 million in taxpayer funding to implement body cameras for officers across the state. However, Winslow said Illinois needs to continue to commit financially to providing officers with these cameras.

“We hope that the state will come forward and help with the costs a little bit more, and I know they allocated more money this year, and we are thankful for that,” Winslow said. “It’s an ongoing cost and you got to build that into your budget for an annual expense.”



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