Questions of ‘duty to intervene’ arise after Tyre Nichols video release

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 9:26 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2023 at 10:56 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The video footage was released Friday, showing the interactions between Memphis police officers and Tyre Nichols on Jan. 7 was released.

Memphis Police Department Chief CJ Davis said the video showed the officer’s lack of intervention. It showed MPD officers just standing around.

“No one took a step to intercept or intervene,” said Davis in an exclusive interview with CNN.

As other officers hit and beat 29-year-old Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop.

Davis said the officers did not use their training of duty to intervene.

In the state of Arkansas, the duty to intervene became law in 2021.

“Gives you a sense of relief as we do have those measures in place and hopefully we won’t have an incident that transpires here in Arkansas that we saw in Tennessee,” said Monte Hodges, former Arkansas State representative for District 55.

Hodges was a co-sponsor of the bill. He said this law helps ensure officers are trained to calm situations before it’s too late.

“With police brutality, the lack of faith in our law enforcement because of the things that have transpired with police brutality,” said Hodges. “I think it is extremely important that we have things in place to ensure that our officers are sensitive to how to diffuse a situation without it escalating to violence or someone getting hurt or either killed.”

Police chiefs across the area told us they have something similar already in their code of conduct or department policy.

The law requires “training concerning a law enforcement officer’s duty to intervene when the law enforcement officer observes the use of excessive force by another law enforcement officer”.

“Law enforcement is super important to our communities I think the better equipped and the better trained the officers are when it comes to situations the better we will be,” said Hodges.

Hodges said the police chief or assistant chief would most likely be the person to enforce this law at the department level.

In Tennessee, a similar act was passed in 2021, revising a previous bill to make law enforcement agencies create a de-escalation policy that includes verbal instructions to prevent the use of physical force.

This revision also included that an officer who observes excessive force must intervene.