Judson L. Jeffries, PhD, is Professor of African American and African studies at Ohio State University. He has published widely on police-community relations and the use of extra-legal force.
Make no mistake about it, I believe former Memphis Police officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith are enemies of the people.
The beating the video evidence alleges they dished out to 29-year-old Trye Nichole was stomach churning and barbaric. Those five alleged miscreants stole something so valuable that no amount of money can replace, a human life.
And as I said in a previous column, we all lose when police officers behave badly.
There are few facets of the human condition that are not adversely impacted when crimes of this magnitude unfold. For reasons unknown to me, some police officers can't seem to get that through their thick heads.
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There was a time when a Black police officer may have been given a pass for use of extra-legal force against a Black motorist or pedestrian.
Back then, there were few if any protests, no uprisings or press conferences by those within the African American community calling for justice and no Black talking heads on the nightly news excoriating the perpetrators. I am happy to say those days are long gone.
Selective outrage has no place when it comes to such treachery.
The men, if that's what you want to call them, were terminated once the video surfaced.
What some within the African American community may not want to admit is that there are times when a Black officer can be just as brutal as those officers who are often the targets of our anger.
I have been told countless stories by Black men much older than me of encounters with Black officers back in the day that left them bruised and bloodied. Every city has them I was told, be it former officer Len Davis aka Robocop in New Orleans who was known for killing witnesses in the 1990s or Gloves Davis in Chicago, who, in the 1960s was known for slipping on a pair of Black gloves right before administering a beat down to anyone who didn't move fast enough when ordered to disperse.
The Black community despised him, the establishment lauded him.
Black or not, Bean, Haley, Martin, Mills and Smith are part of the problem.
Anyone who engages in that level of unnecessary savagery is a menace to society. As of this writing they are, disappointingly, out on bail. I can hear their defense attorney now engaging in all kinds of rhetorical gymnastics and unreasonable assertions to explain away what the video clearly shows.
When faced with video evidence that clearly shows wrongdoing, it is not uncommon for defense attorneys to pull from the same playbook. Without coming out and saying it, what they say to juries is "are you going to believe me or your lying eyes."
To believe our eyes, the video is absent of ambiguity. It seems Bean, Haley, Martin, Mills and Smith are criminals deserving of a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
I am outraged, and disappointed, but sadly, not altogether surprised.
Judson L. Jeffries is professor of African American and African studies at Ohio State University. He has published widely on police-community relations and the use of extra-legal force.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Judson Jeffries: What does Tyre Nichols beating say about Black police
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