Tyre Nichols: 7 more Memphis PD officers probed; More concerning revelations about MPD Chief Davis – National & International News – TUE 7Feb2023

 Tyre Nichols: 7 Memphis PD officers probed; More concerning revelations about MPD Chief Davis.

Biden to deliver State of the Union tonight with lackluster poll numbers.

Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll nears 8,000; conditions hamper rescue efforts.



Tyre Nichols: 7 Memphis PD officers probed; More concerning revelations about MPD Chief Davis

Memphis city attorney Jennifer Sink announced at a city council meeting that 7 MPD officers are currently under investigation in the death of Tyre Nichols last month. That brings the total number of officers fired or disciplined by the department to 13. Five officers have already been fired and charged with second-degree murder. A sixth officer, Preston Hemphill, was also recently fired. Hemphill’s violations related to his personal conduct, his truthfulness and his non-regulation use of his Taser. In the police bodycam footage of Nichols’ initial stop, Hemphill could be heard saying “I hope they stomp his ass”. The department also revealed that a 7th unnamed officer had been placed on administrative leave.

The investigation of the 7 police officers Ms. Sink referred to is apparently an internal MPD investigation to determine whether they violated department protocols. There’s no indication yet that any of them are facing a possibility of criminal charges.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has opened an investigation of the MPD. Specifically, the DOJ is reviewing the department’s use of force policies and its use of special enforcement units. All five officers indicted in Nichols’ death were members of the now disbanded SCORPION unit.

More concerning revelations about MPD Chief Davis

There have already been concerns about MPD Chief Cerelyn Davis’ initial reluctance to disband SCORPION despite many violations, and her time leading a similarly infamous and brutal squad in Atlanta. Davis was fired from the Atlanta PD in 2008 for attempting to halt an underage sex crimes investigation into the husband of one of her colleagues. But Davis appealed her dismissal and the Atlanta PD rehired her three months later.

It now comes to light that after rejoining the APD, Davis helped establish an exchange program with the Israel National Police. When she later became police chief in Durham, NC, Davis’ prior involvement with this program alarmed local activists who successfully lobbied the city council to ban such exchanges for Durham officers.

Advocates for police reform say that these exchanges contribute to the over-militarization of US policing. Eran Efrati of the group Jewish Voice for Peace says that “what takes place during US-Israel police exchanges does nothing to keep our communities safe”. Instead, Efrati says, “participants witness real-life examples of repressive violence” against Palestinians by Israeli security officers.

Police reform advocate Alex Vitale says the training US police receive in Israel “encourages a warrior mindset” and “exposes them to practices that would be unconstitutional in the US”.

Since Davis became Memphis Police Chief in 2021, and particularly since the death of Tyre Nichols, community leaders have expressed skepticism about Davis’ commitment to police reform. Earle Fisher, a Memphis pastor and campaigner against police brutality, said of Davis, “She’s presented herself as very polished and diplomatic in her presentation; but that doesn’t change the substance of the philosophy that she uses”. 

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Biden to deliver State of the Union tonight with lackluster poll numbers

President Biden will deliver his State of the Union address tonight at 9pm ET/8pm CT. Many expect that he will use this opportunity to make the case for his ambition to serve a second term. Biden hasn’t officially announced whether he will seek a second term, but most believe such an announcement is inevitable. Going into the speech, Biden has been buoyed by some encouraging economic news. Unemployment remains very low and inflation, while still high, is showing signs of slowing. However, Biden is not exactly riding high in the most recent polls.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll has Biden’s approval at just 41%. This is not the lowest of his presidency; the same poll had him at just 36% approval in May and June of 2022. An ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 4 in 10 Americans say they are worse off financially than when Biden took office. This is likely tied to inflation and may improve over the next two years. But perhaps most discouraging for Biden’s 2024 prospects is an AP-Norc poll that found just 37% of Democrats want Biden to seek a second term. Unlike the other polls, this figure is heading in the wrong direction for Biden. Before the midterms, 52% of Democrats wanted him to run again.

Names and faces to put to Biden’s policies

Tonight is Biden’s big chance to make his case for the American people. Several people have been invited tonight to help Biden make his points about what he hopes to accomplish. RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, will lend support to Biden’s police reform agenda. Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the Monterey Park mass shooter last month, will be the guest of First Lady Jill Biden. Tsay’s presence is likely to bolster Biden’s case for gun reform. 

Others who will be in attendance have a stake in some of Biden’s key policies on infrastructure, immigration, abortion, cancer and other medical research, climate change, technological advancement and manufacturing. Also in attendance will be the Ukrainian Ambassador to the US.

Biden is also expected to offer an olive branch to skeptical Republicans while also advocating for a more equitable tax system.



Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll nears 8,000; conditions hamper rescue efforts

We’re learning more today about the sheer scale of death and destruction from the earthquake in Turkey yesterday morning. Tonight, the death toll in in Turkey stands at 5,894 people with around 32,000 injured. Across the border in Syria, the death toll is at 1,932. The World Health Organization has estimated that the death toll may rise to around 20,000. There also remain thousands of people still alive trapped under rubble, some contacting loved ones with their cell phones.

Despite the tireless efforts of local professional and volunteer rescuers, as well as teams arriving from dozens of countries, work is progressing slowly. Rescue efforts are being hampered by bitterly cold and inclement weather, a lack of equipment, shortages of supplies including food and fuel, and strong incessant aftershocks. About every 20 minutes on average, strong aftershocks are occurring somewhere within the area. This makes debris unstable and rescue efforts more perilous.

Additionally, the strong earthquakes yesterday damaged critical infrastructure like roads and airport runways. This has made it more difficult to bring in people and equipment. In Syria, the ongoing civil war has also made it more difficult for rescuers and equipment to enter rebel-held areas. Workers in the rebel-held areas say the Assad government is blocking supplies from entering. 

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