Readers Respond

Police killing of Tyre Nichols spurs anger, heartbreak | READER COMMENTARY

People look on during a vigil for Tyre Nichols at Regency Community Skatepark on Jan. 30, 2023, in Sacramento, California.

The Supreme Court has Tyre Nichols’ blood on its hands

The reason cops are bold enough to commit murder on camera is because of something called “qualified immunity,” which shields officers from being sued individually unless it can be proved they violated clearly established law. Qualified immunity in essence allows cops to shoot, choke and beat people to death. In other words, they can effectively act like contracted hit men because the Supreme Court of the United States has given them a license to kill (”Every officer in the country should be required to watch the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols,” Jan. 30).

You know it has to be bad when even a dispassionate conservative like Justice Clarence Thomas has a problem with it. After the Supreme Court declined to take up any of the cases before it last year challenging qualified immunity, “Clarence Thomas signaled that he disagreed with the decision not to reconsider qualified immunity. He wrote a brief dissent arguing that the Court should return to an earlier, narrower understanding of when government officials should be immune from civil rights lawsuits,” according to Vox.


Yes, there are those rare occasions when officers actually get charged with murder, as in the case of Tyre Nichols. But that’s like closing the barn door after the horses are gone. No matter how severe the punishment is for those five former police officers, if there is any, it won’t bring Tyre Nichols back.

The court should have put the police in check so that they think twice before murdering another human being in cold blood. SCOTUS has the blood of Tyre Nichols on its hands, and that of thousands of others. And it will continue to do so until the protective covering of “qualified immunity” is removed from the legalized hit squad in this country calling themselves police officers.


— Kris Bailey, Baltimore

Beating video too horrific to show on television

On the evening of Friday, Jan. 27, I was unable to watch the news on TV. The newly released video of the police beating Tyre Nichols led every, repeat, EVERY newscast I could find. Be it broadcast, cable news or even public television, the media seemed determined that every human being in America must view this (”Michelle Deal-Zimmerman: We’ve seen enough of America’s brutal policing,” Jan. 30). After a few seconds’ exposure. I had gotten the message. Nowhere could I find news about anything else that happened that day. One cable program devoted its entire hour to this tragedy.

Let me say this: 1.) It was a ghastly, inhumane tragedy that could have easily been avoided; 2) my heart breaks for Mr. Nichols’ suffering and death, and for his family and friends who must hereafter endure his loss; 3) I am enraged that this incident and so many others like it have been allowed to happen at all; 4) it’s a good thing that video was made, at least for its value as evidence in court and; 5) it’s also good that the video was released to the public, due to our right to know what happened.

But: Every televised news organization operates a public website, where viewers can “learn more.” If it is deemed urgent by the station’s editors, access to additional material may be facilitated by showing a QR code on-screen, for the viewer to capture and use to go right to the material referenced, rendering optional the viewing of such scenes as the one forced upon all viewers on the 27th.

The news industry’s axiom “If it bleeds, it leads” is, sadly, still in practice. In this case, the viewer leaves. If anyone wants to call me squeamish, so be it. In the future, the newscaster’s disclaimer should read; “The video of this incident is extremely violent. You may view it on our website, at your discretion. The QR code on your screen will direct your device to the publicly-released footage.”

— Paul Thomas, Penn Hills, Pennsylvania

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

The murder of the young motorist by five Memphis police officers after a dubious traffic stop brings an adage to mind: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

— Stephen R. Coar, Havre de Grace


Tyre Nichols and George Floyd each called for their mothers

America witnessed yet another horrific murder in the police beating of Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee, on Jan. 7; Nichols died three days later. This incident was just as traumatic as the murder of George Floyd by then-police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020, except there were five Derek Chauvins this time, and the means of death was beating instead of a knee on the neck. In both incidents, the men cried out for their mothers during their assaults, and in each case, no mercy was handed down. What is amazing to this writer, is that in a post -George Floyd America, with all of the law enforcement reforms that have been introduced in response to his death, such lawlessness still reigns.

— C.C. Jackson, Baltimore

Is beating death a sign of anarchy to come?

If a portion of police forces in the United States choose brutality over so-called decorum and adherence to acceptable protocol, then how close are we to unfettered anarchy?

— Patrick R. Lynch, Towson