Dying Without Really Trying

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

Which one of the following traffic incidents with police could result in you being in a morgue?

(1) driving while Black

(2) broken taillight

(3) sitting in your car doing nothing

(4) sleeping in your car

(5) driving left of center

(6) speeding

(7) not using turn signals

(8) fleeing from the police

(9) no car tags

(10) expired driver’s license

(11) making a “furtive” gesture when you are stopped

(12) arguing with police about why you are being stopped

(13) all the above

Recently, you may have heard of the traffic stop in Memphis Tennessee involving a young Black male, Tyre Nichols, and five Black police officers.

Apparently, when the driver was stopped, he eventually was able to flee from them (his house was about 80 yards away from the stop) but the enraged bunch of cops caught him; and according to a report from one of his attorneys, he was beaten, “like a pinata.”

The medical cause of death was excessive bleeding as a result of a severe beat down. Mr. Nichols died three days later in the hospital. The beat down was three minutes in duration.

The five craven Black cops were fired even before a formal investigation due to the outrageous acts committed by the five cops against an unarmed man who repeatedly was asking them, “What did I do?”

Rightfully so, the minority community in Memphis is outraged that such blatant police brutality was so glaringly manifested in their presence.

But, to see five Black police officers engage in such heinous conduct against a Black person was a shocker to say the least.

When the news first broke, I was conditioned to expect to see five White police officers

as the assailants and later killers of this Black man; and yet to see that it was five Black officers was a shame and a slap to Black people everywhere that Black cops could degenerate and de-evolve into a killing machine of Black people.

When you saw the pictures of the five Black killers, they were “youngish” and you would have thought that they were even remotely attuned to the history of White cops brutalizing Black people for no reasons at all.

Yet, these five depraved cops engaged in police brutality that gives you pause to think:

What happened in their life experiences that they could engage in a pack mentality and

severely injure (who later died from the injuries) a fellow Black male?

Was it a case that they were exorcising their own personal demons against Black people?

Was it that they were trying to gain street cred and get a reputation that you did not mess with them?

Was it that they simply had no respect for human life and were willing to spit on their oath of office which is to protect and serve?

No matter their inner demons who provoked them to kill an innocent driver, these five

killers will be sued (as will the city of Memphis) and hopefully prosecuted by the city for

murder charges. This was not a crime of passion but a crime that they could have held their murderous impulses in check, but collectively chose not to.

It is a sad admission to realize that some Black cops have no sense of history to understand that their conduct is akin to five White cops wearing white sheets and terrorizing Black people, just because they can.

I wonder if the driver was White and if he ran from the five Black cops, that the White driver would have eventually been in a morgue? I say no!

Those Black cops would have instinctively defaulted to the position that White is right and a White driver, even under the same circumstances as the Black driver, would have been ticketed for fleeing or resisting and given a court date.

For those five Black cops to “gang kill” Tyre Nichols was despicable to say the least and especially so when there was no reason for a killing. None.

To see five Black “youngish” looking cops engage in such thuggery shows that Memphis hired five Black men who were woefully deficient in human relation skills and were bitter and already broken men who wore a badge and a gun to ventilate their inner turmoil.

The City of Memphis needs to reevaluate its hiring processes with more thorough mental and psychological screenings to make sure that, under the guise of diversion and equality, they are not hiring monsters who are harboring hateful attitudes towards people of color.

If not, we may wind up with the situation that Massa’ has Black men gladly using his police whip on other Black people.

When these five rogue cops are eventually sentenced (hopefully on charges of murder), I will want to hear their “anguished” statements of sorrow and professed remorse directed to the family of Tyre Nichols. Too little, too late.


Contact Lafe Tolliver, Attorney at tolliver@juno.com