West Tennessee bishop issues statement on Tyre Nichols’ death

Posted Jan 27, 2023

[Episcopal News Service] West Tennesse Bishop Phoebe Roaf issued the following statement on Jan. 27 following the Jan. 10 death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old motorist who was beaten to death by Memphis police officers after a Jan. 7 traffic stop. The statement came hours before the Memphis Police Department was scheduled to release body-camera footage of the beating. The five police officers involved were charged on Jan. 26 with second-degree murder.  Cities across the U.S. are bracing for protests once the footage is released. 

To Members of Our Diocesan Community:

Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to violent incidents in Shelby County. We now prepare for the release of the videotaped encounter between Tyre Nichols and Memphis Police Department (MPD) officers on January 7, 2023, which led to Tyre’s death. There is a sense of anger and frustration because of this senseless loss of life.

Local, state and federal agencies have responded quickly to the situation and I am grateful for their efforts, especially MPD Chief CJ Davis. All five officers face criminal charges resulting from their involvement in Tyre’s death.

There is nothing we can do to change what happened. However, it is time to move from discussing these issues to taking action. Changes in law enforcement policies and procedures are necessary so that no one else will have to experience what the Nichols’ family is going through. Episcopalians in West Tennessee are prepared to be partners in this important work.

I am praying for the repose of the soul of Tyre and for all who mourn his death, for the MPD officers involved, for those leading the investigation, and for the city of Memphis. May God’s justice and compassion be with us in the days and weeks to come.

Collect for Times of Conflict

O God, you have bound us together in a common life.
Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth,
to confront one another without hatred and bitterness,
and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf