Richmond community leaders react to Memphis videos

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 8:30 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin were among many Friday evening voicing their reaction after watching videos released by the Memphis Police Department showing five officers beating Tyre Nichols.

The footage shows 29-year-old Nichols getting violently beaten for three minutes while the officers screamed profanities at him throughout the attack. The police department released multiple videos on Jan. 27 consisting of body cam footage and nearby street surveillance.

Five now-former officers were arrested and charged with second-degree murder Thursday.

After viewing the videos, Governor Youngkin called the violence shown “incomprehensible,” going on to say, “we must condemn these heinous actions.”

Interim Police Cheif Rick Edwards echoed some of Youngkin’s response in his own message to Richmond citizens, saying in part the quick action of the Memphis Police Department to release the videos and take action on the offending officers shows a new age of accountability for law enforcement.

Read the complete statement below:

As communities around our great nation still grapple with the aftermath of the 2020 civil unrest, police departments are also dealing with the same fallout. Life, as we know it will never be the same, and many police departments, are taking this moment to re-evaluate policies, culture, and behavior.

Many of us have watched the news and seen the deplorable actions of five Memphis police officers who did not have an appreciation of someone else’s life and caused a senseless death of a Memphis man, father, and son.

The swift action by the Memphis Police Chief and Mayor underscores the importance for video and technology, but more importantly, it speaks to the new culture of accountability in police departments. Leaders stood firmly together, saying to their community, their officers, and this nation that bad acts will not be tolerated.

As interim chief, one of the first things I did was share our department’s core values. In order for change to occur, everyone must have the same playbook. Here in the city of Richmond, our playbook begins with our core values. These values guide us daily, from how we treat our residents and visitors to how we take care of ourselves and each other. We believe in honoring life and will stand on our sworn mission to protect and serve.

Our hearts go out to the family and community of Memphis as they deal with this most egregious act. We pray for their healing during this time.

Interim Chief Rick Edwards

Richmond Police, VCU Police, NAACP and other city leaders gathered Friday for a roundtable discussion to address the tragedy out of Memphis, Tennessee.

“They acted quickly, decisively, had a component and thorough investigation, and then fired those officers, and then quickly moved towards criminal charges, and appropriate charges under the circumstances,” Edwards said.

VCU’s Police Chief John Ventui echoed those same sentiments.

“The fact that there are five police officers in this nation involved in that kind of conduct is really, really disturbing, at this point in time of where we are,” Venuti said.

As a row of police cars align the barricaded front doors of Richmond Police Headquarters, the River City is preparing for potential demonstrations, and local leaders are asking all protests remain peaceful.

“We want people to express their outrage. We want people to be able to protest, but what we don’t want is to see the violence and property destruction we saw in 2020,” Edwards said.

“We cannot allow folks to come back into our city, throw bricks at humans, throw bricks at the police department, setting things on fire. That is not the way we do things,” James Minor with Richmond NAACP said.

Mayor Levar Stoney released a statement to Twitter Friday expressing his condolences to Nichols’ family, especially his mother.

The city has opened several locations as a safe space for community members to process their thoughts and grieve that will be open on Saturday, Jan. 28.


Hotchkiss Field Community Center, located at 701 E Brookland Park Blvd, is one of a handful.

“This is a safe haven or just a way to get away, or they may come talk to our coaches, come talk to our staff,” Hotchkiss Community Center Anthony Allen said.