Biden credits Tyre Nichols parents during State of the Union speech: ‘Something good should come out of this’

Tyre Nichols’ parents were guests of President Biden on Tuesday, about a week after Nichols’ funeral. The president recounted his conversation with Nichols’ mother and promised to grant her wish for her son’s legacy. He also urged police departments to hold officers accountable.

Nichols, the black man killed by Memphis police during a traffic stop on January 7, was the 29-year-old father of a 4-year-old boy.

His mother, Rowan Wells, and stepfather, Rodney Wells, stood up when Mr. Biden mentioned them during his speech.

“As many of you personally know, there are no words to describe the heartache of losing a child, but imagine, imagine if you lost that child at the hands of the law,” Mr. Biden said.

“Here’s what Mother Tyra shared with me when I asked her how she finds the courage to go ahead and speak up: She said her son is a beautiful soul and something good will come of it,” Biden said. “Imagine how much courage it takes. It depends on us, on all of us.”

Mr. Biden spoke of the importance of public trust in law enforcement officers, who are often overworked and must play the role of “social workers, psychologists responding to drug overdoses, mental health crises and more.”

“But what happened to Tire in Memphis happens all too often,” he said. “We have to work better. Give law enforcement officers the real training they need. Demand higher standards from them. Help them succeed in keeping us safe.”

Mr. Biden said the country needs more first responders and specialists to address growing mental health and substance abuse problems, more resources to reduce violent crime and gun violence, community intervention programs and more investment in housing, education, and vocational training, all of which “can help prevent violence in the first place.”

He also called on police departments to hold accountable officers who undermine public confidence.

While there were several partisan moments during State of the Union — when Republicans expressed dissatisfaction with Mr. Biden’s performance — Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, was especially supportive of Mr. Biden’s line on holding the police accountable. when they violate public trust.

“Let’s commit to living up to Mama Tyra’s words: something good must come out of this,” Mr. Biden said.

Last year, on the anniversary of the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minneapolis, Mr Biden signed executive order who banned chokeholds, restricting no-strike warrants, and other tenants “George Floyd Act” which was aimed at limiting certain police policies.

Footage of Nichols’ violent arrest leading to his death was released by the Memphis Police Department last month. Mr Biden said he spoke to Nichols’ parents on the phone and in a statement he said he was “outraged and deeply distressed” and joined the Nichols family in calling for a peaceful protest.

The five officers involved in Nichols’ death were fired and charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, misconduct and official harassment. Two other officers were relieved of their positions, three Memphis Fire Department officers who arrived on the scene were fired, and two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies were also relieved of their duties.

Officials said Tuesday that eight more Memphis Police Department officers are likely to face charges in connection with Nichols’ death.

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