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Statements from City of Seattle Leaders on Memphis Police Video 

Seattle – Today, City of Seattle elected and public safety leaders released the following statements regarding video released of the beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Statement from Mayor Bruce Harrell: 

“The appalling, egregious, heinous beating death of Tyre Nichols is devastating – for his family, for his community, and for all of us. Unconscionable violence has no role in policing and is in direct opposition to keeping people safe. This is the kind of event that compromises and erodes trust in law enforcement not just in Memphis, but in cities and communities across the country. While the officers responsible have been terminated and charged, additional investigations and actions must create further accountability. Proactive, preventative measures, like those we have pioneered in Seattle, must be at the forefront of reform, not an afterthought when tragedies like this occur. I am proud that our Seattle Police Officers have openly rejected this injustice and violence. 

“We feel for Tyre’s family and for the people of Memphis, and we are committed to ensuring something like this does not happen in Seattle. The last several years in Seattle and Washington state have demonstrated our commitment to equitable and constitutional policing and diversified responses, along with showcasing how deliberative legislative action and community engagement can advance those goals.  

“George Floyd’s murder was an inspiration for my run for mayor, based on a belief that unjust force, racism, and bias in policing can and must be eradicated by elevating true public safety for all communities through an embrace of human dignity, accountability, and innovation. We work with officers every day to ensure a culture that embodies de-escalation, respect, and community values. We are also advancing solutions to diversify emergency response and ensure all people get the care they need. This work must continue in our policies and in our practice. 

“There is always room to learn, grow, and improve – and it is always the right time to stand against injustice. I encourage Seattle residents to continue pushing for true safety and accountability in systems of policing across the country, recognizing that this vision is best realized through thoughtful dialogue and peaceful demonstration.” 

Statement from City Council President Debora Juarez: 

“The death of Tyre Nichols stands in opposition to everything we aim to achieve in a trusted and effective police department. My Council colleagues and I stand united with community members across the city, dedicated to guaranteeing constitutional, accountable policing in Seattle. Nothing is more critical to driving real accountability for officers and our department than a strong and comprehensive accountability system. Working with the mayor, SPD, our accountability offices and partners, and our Seattle community, we will continue pursuing necessary reforms and creative new ideas to deliver transparency, safety, and fairness for every Seattle resident. As we lament Tyre’s unnecessary and tragic death, I welcome continued reflection and ongoing conversation with our community to further move SPD forward, so this kind of police violence cannot happen here.” 

Statement from Chief of Police Adrian Z. Diaz: 

“I have been monitoring the recent death of a community member in Memphis, Tennessee. This incident has caused great concern at the police officer response and was so horrific the Memphis police chief immediately terminated the officers involved. What happened to Tyre Nichols should not have happened, and I grieve his loss.   

“The Seattle Police Department still has work to do to ensure the equitable treatment of all people. However, I also want to highlight the significant progress this department is making to be responsive to community needs, address public safety, and hold officers accountable for their actions. I am committed to having the right policies, procedures, training, and accountability processes in place to ensure what happened to Mr. Nichols never occurs in our city because of changes we’ve made within SPD.  

“Across the department, we are 100% focused on providing equitable public safety services for all people. Use of Force by SPD officers decreased 48% in 2021 compared to 2015. Complaints to the Office of Police Accountability fell by 50% in 2022 compared to 2019.  

“SPD also acknowledges the vision of Mayor Bruce Harrell’s One Seattle requires fair public safety, and our policies reflect the recommendations by members of the community and our accountability partners, including the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Community Police Commission.  

“Everyone at the Seattle Police Department understands people may be inspired to voice their on-going concerns about the criminal justice system in Memphis, Tennessee and throughout our country, and we support the First Amendment rights of everyone. SPD simply requests that, if you gather, please do so peacefully while respecting the rights of others.” 

Statement from Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan:  

“The Seattle Police Officers Guild is outraged at the actions of these Memphis officers. Their egregious acts of violence are not only disgraceful, they are categorically not policing. This incident is in complete opposition to everything we stand for.  

“SPOG members take an oath to protect and serve, and we live that oath every day by treating all residents of Seattle with respect, equity, and genuine care.  

“As officers, we aim to fight injustice, and wish we could have stopped or prevented this terrible crime. But instead our role is now to speak out against this injustice, and then let our actions speak even louder than words.   

“We have embraced the many changes within SPD meant to prevent a death like Tyre Nichols’ from happening here, and we will continue to uphold our high standard of conduct with true professionalism.  

“We know this incident has devastated the citizens of Memphis and we wish them strength as they begin a difficult journey to heal as a community.” 

The City of Seattle and Seattle Police Department are committed to ensuring public safety for all communities, including equitable and accountable policing. Recent changes made to advance this vision include: 

  • Requirement of implicit bias and active bystandership training  
  • Banning of neck restraints, choke holds and no-knock warrants  
  • Before the Badge training so SPD recruits build community relationships before attending the law enforcement academy  
  • Equity, Accountability, Quality (EAQ) Risk Management for a data-driven model of identifying and addressing disparities – including racial disparities – in real time  
  • Reducing specific traffic stops from primary to secondary stops  
  • Emphasizing de-escalation and force modulation responsive to changes in crowd behavior  
  • Providing consistency in required warnings around the use of less-lethal tools  
  • Reducing the SPD’s visible footprint around crowd events to avoid escalation that may result from an SPD presence  
  • A more robust statement of purpose that embraces Seattle’s approach to facilitating public assembly, over and beyond what would be required under a strict First Amendment analysis  
  • More robust emphasis on crowd intervention tactics that focus on isolating and arresting law violators within an otherwise peaceable assembly  

Further, laws have also been passed at the state level – many adopted even earlier by SPD – to protect the public from police brutality, including:  

  • The Duty to Intervene: (Washington State Senate Bill 5066) which requires officers to intervene when they witness another officer use excessive force. 
  • De-Escalation: (Initiative No. 940) which requires officers to complete violence de-escalation training and mental health training. 
  • Misconduct and Decertification: (Washington State Senate Bill 5051) which expands the ability to revoke a police officer’s certification. An officer fired by another agency and/or decertified will not be hired by SPD. 

Through the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Community Police Commission, the City of Seattle has created a robust accountability structure to review, analyze, and address officer misconduct, ensuring transparency and fairness, as well as providing outlets and recommendations for further reform efforts.