‘Appalling and indefensible’: Colorado law enforcement officials react to Memphis traffic stop footage


Colorado law enforcement agencies on Friday reacted to body-cam footage released of a traffic stop and deadly beating of a 29-year-old Black man in Memphis earlier this month.

Memphis authorities released video footage Friday showing Tyre Nichols being beaten by police officers who held the Black motorist down and repeatedly struck him with their fists, boots and batons as he screamed for his mother and pleaded, “I just want to go home.”

The video is filled with violent moments showing the officers, who are also Black, chasing and pummeling Nichols and leaving him on the pavement propped against a squad car as they fist-bumped and celebrated their actions.

The footage emerged one day after the officers were charged with murder in Nichols’ death. The chilling images of another Black man dying at the hands of police provoked tough questions about the nation’s policing culture and raised the specter of renewed protests less than three years after a wave of demonstrations wracked the country.


Colorado Springs Chief of Police Adrian Vasquez said he was “horrified” after watching the footage. 

“I want to offer my condolences, and those of everyone on the Colorado Springs Police Department, to the family of Tyre Nichols. We respect and honor Mr. Nichols’ family,” Vasquez said in a statement.

Vasquez called the actions of the officers involved “appalling and indefensible,” acknowledging that conversations between law enforcement and the communities they serve is vital.

“I want to emphasize that all police departments should be having conversations with our communities about what law enforcement looks like moving forward. This includes the Colorado Springs Police Department. The conversations we’re currently having regarding police use of force in our community focus on procedural justice, which is vital to building trust with the Colorado Springs community,” he said.

“To my community, as Chief of Police I remain committed to emphasizing our dedication and service built on a foundation of fairness, impartiality, transparency, and ensuring all people have a voice. This pursuit goes on daily. I thank you for the trust you’ve placed in the Colorado Springs Police Department.”


El Paso County Sheriff Joseph J. Roybal admonished the actions of officers in Memphis and extended condolences to family and friends of Tyre Nichols in a statement Friday.

“Mr. Nichols’ death is tragic and the actions of the officers which led to his death are not in line with the values and ethics of this Office or the law enforcement industry,” the statement said.

The statement called the incident in Memphis a betrayal of trust between local law enforcement and communities they police.

“The men and women of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office remain committed to professionalism, positive community engagement and partnerships, and the highest standards of conduct.”

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Pueblo Chief of Police Chris Noeller said in a statement:

“The members of the Pueblo Police Department and I are deeply saddened and disgusted by the murder of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five Memphis Police Officers on January 10, 2023,” Noeller said in the statement.

“There is no place for brutality or abuse of power within our profession. As law enforcement officers, we have a sacred duty to serve and protect our community, and any violation of that duty is a betrayal of the trust placed in us by those we serve.

“I want to assure you that our department is committed to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. We have strict policies in place to prevent and address any instances of misconduct, and we take all complaints of abuse seriously. ” he said.

Noeller also recognized the damage that these incidents can have on public trust of law enforcement, saying that the events in Memphis have blemished those in law enforcement who are working to serve the community. 

“Please know that I am here to listen and we will do our best to make sure that such incidents don’t happen here,” Noeller said.

Colorado Department of Public Safety

The Colorado Department of Public Safety released a statement related to the incident, signed by Stan Hilkey, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety; Matt Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol; John Camper, Colorado Bureau of Investigation director; and Chris Schaefer, incoming CBI director.

“It is difficult and physically sickening to see individuals who are entrusted with protecting the public engage in such heinous acts. As you process the horrifying behavior of five uniformed officers in Memphis, please know that the members of the Colorado Department of Public Safety share your shock, disbelief, disgust, and yes, anger.

“Those of us who are members of law enforcement commit our careers to protecting and serving our community and every individual within. For most of us, this is not just a job: it’s the embodiment of our values and the core of our lives — indeed, our members put their own lives on the line to serve others.

“We work constantly to build and maintain trust with those we serve and protect. Incidents like this endanger our communities both directly, due to their violence, and indirectly, because they erode public trust in public safety institutions and harm the morale of the ethical, caring majority of public safety professionals.”

The Public Safety statement concluded with an expression of sadness for Nichols’ family and loved ones and a call for “swift and thorough justice.”