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In wake of Tyre Nichols' death, Virginia leaders call for change: 'My heart hurts'

Posted at 11:09 PM, Jan 30, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginians, including Governor Glenn Youngkin and several members of law enforcement, gathered on Monday night in honor of Tyre Nichols, the man who died at the alleged hands of five police officers in Memphis.

"My heart hurts. I want my heart to stop hurting," Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond) said.

Five former Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes in the arrest and death of Nichols, a Black motorist who died three days after a confrontation with the officers during a traffic stop.

On Monday, two more Memphis police officers were disciplined and three emergency responders were fired in connection with Nichols' death.

Video footage of Nichols's arrest was shown to his family and was made public after 6 p.m. on Friday. After the video was made public, protests took place across the country.

Since then, police leaders have said that change needs to happen and that trust needs to be re-established.

"My heart goes out to Tyree Nichols and his family and I know Chief Davis in Memphis and I know she's been trying to do the right thing down there but then again, it comes down to what Delegate McQuinn said. It's culture," Henrico Police Chief Eric English said.

"If any officer sees another officer stepping out of line, it's their duty to intervene. If any one of those officers in Memphis would have had the courage to intervene, Tyree might still be alive today," Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards said.

Along with Gov. Youngkin and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, those who gathered on Monday night at Abner Clay Park bowed their heads in silence. Some spoke about the challenges that officers continue to face in establishing trust.

"When I take off this uniform, I'm just a woman raising children in a world that doesn't make that easy," one Richmond police officer said.

But for Black Lives Matter activist Lawrence West, words simply aren't enough.

"It was important for me to come out today to keep everybody honest. I need them to understand that we are really watching and we are really listening and you just can't sweep it under the rug as if nothing has happened," West said.

Leaders hope Monday night's vigil shows their compassion and commitment to change.

"The folks standing behind me, we are committed to continuing to try and build up our communities to continue to hold our folks accountable and to continue to engage with each other and make our community feel a part of what we are trying to do," English said.

The NAACP was also in attendance on Monday night and asked city and state leaders to consider more legislation to help prevent police violence and to improve transparency and training.

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