NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams, a retired police captain who’s made public safety the cornerstone of his agenda, said Friday the police beating of Black motorist Tyre Nichols has “hurt” him on a personal level.
City and state police departments are prepared for any local protests in response to the expected public release Friday of a video showing the deadly encounter, said Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul at an unrelated press conference in Manhattan.
Five fired Memphis police officers were charged with murder and other crimes in the killing of Nichols, who died three days after the officers confronted him at a traffic stop. Nichols’ family and lawyers have said the video shows the officers, who are all Black, savagely beating the 29-year-old father.
“To see what is reported, that five African American officers are involved in this, just really hurt me personally,” Adams said in response to a question from POLITICO. “It was always my belief that diversifying our departments with different ethnic groups would allow us to have the level of policing we all deserve.”
Adams spent more than two decades in the New York Police Department and was the co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, an advocacy group that speaks out against police brutality and racial profiling. The mayor has spoken openly about being arrested as a teenager and beaten by police.
“What it appears is that these officers tarnished much of the work that many of us attempted to accomplish,” Adams said.
Hochul urged New Yorkers to remain peaceful if they choose to assemble after the video is made public.
“I will ask everyone to heed the words of Tyre Nichols’ mother on behalf of her family and his 4-year-old child — if you’re going to protest, please do so peacefully in her son’s name,” Hochul said.