Death of Tyre Nichols

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 6, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for hosting this Special Order hour on behalf of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus under the leadership of Chairman Steve Horsford.

Tonight, we are here to talk about a plague on America. It has to do with police violence toward Black people in this country. I am not talking about just White police officers but Black officers, also.

We saw it with Tyre Nichols, where a group of five so-called elite crime suppression unit officers, who travel in unmarked cars and in plainclothes, were out looking for crime. They jump out on folks. They jumped out on Tyre Nichols.

Tyre Nichols was on his way over to his mother's house for dinner, but he never made it. You all saw it on TV, where he was pulled over. The police were going at 100 miles an hour on him: Get out of the car. Get out of the car.

They had guns drawn: Get on your stomach.

He complied.

Because of the culture of policing with these crime suppression units and other units of police agencies across the country, he was frightened--I was frightened--and he ran.

He almost made it to his mother's house, but they caught up with him, and the rest you saw with your own eyes. You can believe your lying eyes about what you saw: a horrific beating.

You also could hear what was happening in the background as the officers were talking to each other, planning on how they were going to adjust their reports to all be consistent about this guy being on drugs: He must have been on this, that, and the other. He wouldn't comply. He wouldn't put his hands behind him.

Just talking to each other throughout the whole thing.

This is a part of a culture, and it is something that has to be rooted out. It is happening all over the country.

In my neck of the woods, in DeKalb County, in March 2015, Air Force veteran Anthony Hill was fatally shot.

Anthony had been to Afghanistan. His mother didn't want him to go, but he went to serve his country. When he came back, he was different. He suffered from mental illness, bipolar.

In March 2015, shortly after the situation with Michael Brown in Ferguson, Anthony Hill is out in his apartment complex running around naked as a jaybird, swinging from canopies, knocking on doors. The neighbors knew him. They called the police. They called 911. They wanted some help to come for him. Instead, a police officer showed up.

When Anthony Hill did not stop coming toward the officer, he didn't tase him. He didn't hit him with his nightstick. The officer pulled out his 9-millimeter and shot Anthony twice and killed him.

Anthony was his mother's only son, her youngest child. He killed him. He was naked as a jaybird. Then, he said in his report that the guy came at him and hit him, and that is why he fired.

The jury found otherwise. The officer was indicted for murder, but the jury didn't convict him for murder. They convicted him for aggravated assault and for lying, filing a false statement about what happened.

It took the jury 6 days to get to the point where they could convict him of anything. He was looking at 30 years at that point, but the judge had mercy on him and gave him 20 to do 12 for taking a man's life.

That is how it goes throughout America. Everybody has sympathy. I have abundant sympathy. I love my men and women in blue, but the culture in policing has to change.

We saw why it needs to change with Tyre Nichols. My colleagues are going to speak about other examples of why it needs to change. I have given you mine.

I have taken enough of your time, but I will just leave you with this: We need to make police reform a priority. It is time to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We did it in the House two or three times last session. It went to the Senate, and it couldn't get across the finish line. We need the Senate to abandon the filibuster rule.

Let's get some legislation passed. Let's get voting rights passed. Let's get police reform passed.