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'Absolutely horrific': Charlotte police chief reacts to fatal Memphis police beating

Nick de la Canal
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings joined a faith demonstration in Marshall Park on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, following the release of video showing Memphis police fatally beating Tyre Nichols.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said the videos of Memphis police violently beating Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop this month showed "one of the most heinous acts of law enforcement" he had seen in his 31-year career.

Jennings made the remarks after attending a faith demonstration in Marshall Park on Sunday, where faith leaders called for justice in the death of the 29-year-old Black man and for an end to police brutality.

The police chief made brief remarks at the event, saying the video "absolutely made me sick, and I was horrified to see the suffering that this young man went through."

“Every single punch, every kick, and every baton — every throw of that baton — was a kick, punch and throw to each and every one of us out here," he said.

Talking to reporters after the event, Jennings said he was frustrated and disappointed by the video, and concerned by the officers' apparent lack of supervision and accountability to one another.

"As officers, we have to realize that ... because we have a gun and a badge does not give us any right to disrespect anyone. And that's important. You have to hire the right people, and you have to train appropriately and supervise appropriately," he said.


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Jennings said he also feared the fatal beating would wipe out trust that law enforcement agencies had been working to regain since the 2020 police killing of George Floyd.

"There are some things that I really believe are working, so let's not discount, because we see one thing happen in Memphis here recently, that the country is not trying to do better when it comes to law enforcement," he said.

Jennings also said he supported the decision by the Memphis Police Department to fire the five officers allegedly involved. Those officers, all of whom were Black, have also been charged with second-degree murder, among other crimes.

Jennings and other CMPD officers also joined a "unity march" through uptown Charlotte on Saturday organized by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP.

The local chapter's president, the Rev. Corine Mack, welcomed the police chief after asking if he was "in solidarity" with the protesters and "willing to sit at the table to create change," to which he agreed.

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Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal