The parents of a man who died following a violent interaction with police will attend the next State of the Union at the invitation of the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’ family as we mourn his loss,” Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford, the caucus’ chair, wrote on Twitter on Jan. 27. “I remain committed to finding legislative solutions to ensure that police officers who use excessive force are held accountable through the criminal legal system.”
Vince Evans, the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, confirmed the news two days after a video of Nichols’ interactions with a group of police officers in Memphis was released.
Nichols reportedly lived with his mother, RowVaughn Wells, and stepfather, Rodney Wells, at the time of his death. The 29-year-old reportedly yelled “Mom! Mom!” after fleeing the scene of a Jan. 7 traffic stop. Nichols was within 80 yards of his parents’ home when he was beaten by five police officers, who have since been dismissed by their department. Nichols died from his injuries in the hospital three days after the attack, per Reuters.
Mrs. Wells asked parents not to show their children the video of police harming her son, which she said she had heard was “very horrific.”
“No mother, no mother, no mother should go through what I am going through right now to lose their child to the violent way that I lost my child,” Mrs. Wells said while speaking at Mt. Olive Cathedral Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Memphis, per Business Insider. “For a mother to know that a child was calling for them in their need, do you know how I feel right now because I wasn’t there for my son?”
“Our son ran because he was scared for his life,” Mr. Wells said. “He did not run because he was trying to get rid of no drugs, no guns, no any of that.”
Horsford has been a member of the Congressional Black Caucus since he first took office in 2013. He was sworn in as the chair at the start of the 118th congress. The Nevada Democrat was appointed to the House Financial Services Committee after serving on the Ways & Means Committee.
In a statement on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, Horford said Nichols’ family was processing “the deeply unfortunate, premature, and unjust loss of life.”
“The Congressional Black Caucus is disturbed by the gut-wrenching allegations underlying Tyre Nichol’s brutal death at the hands of law enforcement and we must work to ensure that our legal system holds accountable the officers who, with impunity, kill too many in our communities,” read the statement. “We must ensure that police officers who use excessive force and act outside of their legal authority are held accountable through the criminal legal system.”
“While we appreciate the swift action of the Shelby County District Attorney, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the US Department of Justice, we will continue to demand reform, accountability, and transparency in policing because too many Black and brown lives depend on it,” Horsford concluded.
President Joe Biden will deliver his second State of the Union on Feb. 7. Biden spoke to Nichols’ mother hours before the video footage was released.
The officers involved in Nichols’ death – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr. – were indicted on Jan. 26. Although Nichols was allegedly stopped for “reckless driving,” Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis told the media there was no evidence proving such conduct at this point in the investigation.
The five officers have each been charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression and one count of aggravated assault.
A sixth officer, Preston Hemphill, was suspended for his alleged role in Nichols’ death.
The Department of Justice and the FBI Memphis Field Office are currently investigating the incident to determine if Nichols’ civil rights were violated by the officers.