Alabama officials on Monday publicly condemned the killing of 29-year-old Tire Nichols by Memphis police officers earlier this month.
“What you see in this video should not be tolerated by anyone,” said Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Stimpson’s comments came during a press conference at the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa, which concluded a two-day annual retreat attended by the mayors of Alabama’s 10 largest cities.
Addressing his fellow mayors, Stimpson said: “It is my opinion, and I think every one of these gentlemen agrees, that we do not tolerate this. We view this as an exceptional situation which is unfortunate not only for police departments across the country but also for the families affected.”
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, who called police bodycam footage of Nichols’ fight on Friday “terrifying”, said mayors “categorically condemn the actions of the officers who killed Nichols”.
His comments came as mayors outlined broad priorities for the spring legislature, including economic development and public safety.
“We need to ensure that our police departments lead with integrity,” said Woodfin, who has advocated for cities to work with state legislatures to ensure police departments “are equipped with the necessary tools.”
Stimpson said the footage had a negative impact on police departments and the police force in general. The images show Nichols, a FedEx employee, who was brutally beaten by five police officers for three minutes. The five disgraced former officers, who are also black, have been charged with murder and other crimes and could each face up to 60 years in prison if convicted.
Stimpson said that “99.9 percent of the time[the police]do the right thing,” but added that “like many other professions … there are people who, intentionally or otherwise, make mistakes that negatively impact their.” profession.”
Also contributing to the Memphis killing was the Alabama Sheriffs Association, which released a statement Monday morning calling the video images a “personal affront” to “the vast majority of peace officers in our country.”
Alabama has 67 county sheriffs.
“As constitutionally elected officers, it is our sheriff’s duty to do his best to bar individuals who engage in unlawful conduct from entering the ranks of law enforcement,” the statement said. “It is also the duty of sheriffs to act decisively to remove those who engage in acts that constitute flagrant disregard for the constitutional rights of citizens. We strive every day to achieve the goal of professionalism in public security.”
Police departments in Alabama have also weighed in. Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond said in a statement Friday his agency does not condone the actions of Memphis police officers.