Former President Trump said the footage of the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers is “horrible” and that the attack “never should have happened.” “I thought it was terrible. He was in such trouble. He was just being pummeled. Now that should never have happened," Trump said in an interview with the Associated Press on Saturday, a day after authorities released footage of the attack on the 29-year-old Black man after a traffic stop. Nichols died three days later. The comments were notable for Trump, who is running for the White House again and who centered his 2020 reelection bid around a “law and order” message that emphasized support for law enforcement.
The newly released video in Memphis shows police holding down and beating Nichols for three minutes with their fists, boots, and batons. The footage shows police screaming profanities at him while Nichols screams for his mother. Trump said Nichols calling out for his mother was “a very sad moment," adding, "that was really the point that got me the most, to be honest with you." Trump said Memphis police were taking a “strong step” by disbanding the police unit involved in the attack, which was created to target violent offenders in areas beset by high crime.
“Look, the tape was perhaps not totally conclusive but, to me, it was pretty conclusive and it was vicious and violent and hard to believe—over a traffic violation," he said. The beating renewed questions about the how fatal encounters with law enforcement continue to occur after repeated calls for change after George Floyd's 2020 murder in Minneapolis. Trump condemned the killing at the time but also blasted protests that were were largely peaceful, though marred by outbursts of violence. Trump tweeted about “thugs” in the Minneapolis protests and warned, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter flagged the message as glorifying violence and Trump tried to walk back the comments.
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