WORCESTER - Police Chief Steven M. Sargent and City Manager Eric D. Batista both set out on social media Saturday in an effort to keep the peace in Worcester after Friday night's release of graphic police bodycam footage in Memphis, Tennessee, in the death of Tyre Nichols.
Authorities released video footage Friday showing Nichols being beaten Jan. 7 by five Memphis police officers who held the Black motorist down and repeatedly struck him with their fists, boots and batons as he screamed for his mother. Nichols died in a Memphis hospital Jan. 10.
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-bump one another and celebrate their actions.
The footage emerged one day after the officers were charged with murder in Nichols' death.
'Appalling and indefensible'
Sargent didn't mince words in a press release posted on the WPD's website, Facebook page and Twitter account.
"The death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers is appalling and indefensible," Sargent said in the release after offering Nichols' family prayers and support.
"The brutality that I saw in the video released (Friday) sickened me and has left me heartbroken. The failure of these officers to intervene is a disgrace to our profession and it impacts all who wear the badge. It angers me to see these officers betray their oath. Incidents like this will create further distrust and anger directed toward police across the nation," Sargent said.
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Sargent said Worcester police are always working hard to build relationships and strengthen trust in the community, and that the "atrocious incident" in Memphis "may" make it harder to build on this trust. But, he concluded, the people of Worcester together as a community can get through this.
"As your police chief, I am devoted to making the Worcester Police Department the best it can be. I recognize that more can be done and more will be done," Sargent said in the release. "We will always be there for you and it is our job to make every citizen feel safe."
Batista was brief, but didn't hold back on his statement posted on Twitter.
"The horrific murder of Tyre Nichols is yet another stain on our nation. Words are not enough. Action & accountability are necessary. I am committed to dismantling systems of racism w/in city government. Sending strength to our community as we collectively mourn this senseless loss."
The scene around the city Saturday was subdued, with no known peaceful protests or gatherings taking place.
Material from The Associated Press contributed to this story.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Worcester police chief, city manager respond to Tyre Nichols video