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New KCPD chief calls Memphis man’s death in police beating a ‘tragedy’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – New Kansas City, Missouri, Police Chief Stacey Graves condemned the police beating death of a 29-year-old Memphis man, calling it a “tragedy” and vowing to ensure the KCPD learns from it.

Tire Nichols was stopped on January 7 while walking home from work and allegedly fled the traffic stop.

He was then beaten by five Memphis Police officers and died three days later in the hospital.

“On behalf of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, our hearts go out to the family of Tire Nichols,” Graves said in a video posted to Twitter. “… This is a tragedy. It shouldn’t have happened. I will do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen in Kansas City.”

Memphis Police announced at the time of Nichols’ death that the officers involved had been suspended per departmental policy.

Police Chief Cerelyn Davis later fired the five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith – last week.

“I applaud Chief Davis’ swift actions in Memphis to suspend and ultimately fire the officers involved,” Graves said.

All five were arrested and charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression in Nichols’ death.

“I met with my command staff this morning to make it clear that we here at the KCPD need to reinforce a culture of accountability within the top-down police department,” Graves said. “This responsibility comes with a duty to intervene if officers witness excessive use of force or a violation of someone’s constitutional or civil rights. I take this position and the responsibility that comes with it seriously, which is why we are having these conversations.

Graves was chosen last month as the first full-time female police chief in KCPD history. You replaced Rick Smith, who retired last spring.

For jurisdictions using the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be submitted by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online, or via the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.

Details and annual homicide data for the Kansas City area are available through the KSHB 41 News Homicide Tracker, launched in 2015. Read the KSHB 41 News Mug Shot Policy.

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