Franklin County Sheriff reacts to the video showing the deadly beating of Tyres Nichols

Published: Jan. 28, 2023 at 10:29 PM CST
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A shocking video has gripped the nation. A traffic stop in Memphis, Tennesse turned deadly, after police officers brutally beat Tyre Nichols on January 7th.

Many are wondering how this could happen, and a local law enforcement leader is asking the same thing.

“Why do I think it happened, if that is a question you would like to know? I am going to give you my 40+ years of experience,” Franklin County Sheriff A.J Smith said. “I think that agencies, especially the bigger ones sometimes are hiring, and this is just my guess I do not know the hiring practices of Memphis PD. Sometimes when you are having a hard time hiring people you hire people that wouldn’t necessarily be the type of people you want. You reduce your standards. I am hoping that did not happen there but it kind of indicates to me that probably happened. These guys never should have been in law enforcement with the mentality they had they were all young guys,”

Sheriff Smith added there could have also been a lack of supervision. But the sheriff told NewsChannel 7 that in his opinion the officers handled everything poorly starting from the traffic stop.

“I saw the initial interaction they had with the guy at the traffic stop. It was handled poorly and then he got away, and if they had handled it properly at the time-- because I don’t know whether they had probable cause to stop him I do not know all that. But just the way they handled that initial stop those officers if they would have handled it differently we would have had a different outcome on the tail end because those other officers would have not been involved,” Sheriff Smith said.

Sheriff Smith also said the beating of the man was unsettling to watch.

“It was a savage beating,” Sheriff Smith said.

Sheriff Smith also said in a statement released on Facebook that he knows this video can bring about unsettling emotions. that includes anger. He said he hopes that we can channel the emotions into change so this never happens again.

“I don’t know if it is a change or do we just have to continue to be vigilant and hire the best people possible,” Sheriff Smith said.

We also asked how Sheriff Smith tries to prevent something like this from happening in his town.

“You have to have good supervisors who are out in the field with your troops and again hire the best people. I have vacancies and there are people who maybe have been dismissed from another law enforcement agency. I am not going to hire those people. Those are the kind of things that we have to make sure that we are not doing. Even if it means we are going to work short-staffed. That is what I am dedicated to doing is to hire the best people to fill the jobs at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and I think the sheriffs throughout Florida will agree with that,” Sheriff Smith said.

The five officers involved in the beating were fired from the Memphis Police Department, and all five are also facing several charges including second-degree murder.