On Saturday, former president Donald Trump called the video of Tyre Nichols’ horrific assault by five Memphis police officers “terrible” and said the attack “never should have occurred.”
“I found it to be awful. He was really in trouble. He was merely being beaten. In an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday, the day after officials released video of the assault on the 29-year-old Black man following a traffic stop, Trump stated, “Now that should never have occurred.”
Three days later, Nichols passed away.
The remarks were noteworthy because Trump, who is running for president once more and has a history of advocating for harsh treatment of those detained by the police, said them.
He was in office when racial justice demonstrations began in the summer of 2020 in response to the Minneapolis police shooting death of George Floyd.
He issued an executive order at the time urging better police tactics, but others have criticized him for doing so without addressing what they see as systemic racial bias in policing.
Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign ultimately revolved around a “law and order” platform that highlighted support for law enforcement.
Police in Memphis is shown holding Nichols down and hitting him with their fists, boots, and batons for three minutes in the recently released graphic footage.
In the video, Nichols screams for his mother as officers yell obscenities at him.
As Nichols called out for his mother, it was “a really heartbreaking moment,” according to Trump.
He said, “That was the point that grabbed me the most.”
Trump did not mention the film in his comments during his campaign trips in South Carolina and New Hampshire in 2024.
The five former Black policemen of the Memphis Police Department have been sacked and accused of murder and other offenses.
The legal team representing the Nichols family compared it to the notorious police beating of Los Angeles driver Rodney King in 1991.
By disbanding the police unit engaged in the attack, which was established to target violent offenders in areas plagued by high crime, Trump said Memphis Police were taking a “bold move.”
Although the video was not entirely definitive, in his opinion, it was pretty conclusive and hard to believe that it was all over a minor infraction.
After repeated calls for change, a national reckoning, and scrutiny of policing following Floyd’s murder, the beating raised new concerns about how tragic interactions with law officers continue to occur.
At the time, Trump denounced the murder and criticized the protests, which were mainly nonviolent but occasionally marred by violent outbursts.
When Trump threatened that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in a tweet on the Minneapolis protests,
Twitter reported the message as glorifying violence, and Trump attempted to retract the statement.
When thousands of protesters gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House,
U.S. Park Police used tear gas and flash bangs to violently disperse them just before Trump crossed the park for a photo opportunity near St. John’s Church.