Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in reacting to released footage of five Black Memphis cops fatally beating Tyre Nichols, argued Sunday that “no amount of training is going to change what we saw in that video.”
In appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Jordan, a member on the House Oversight and Reforms subcommittee on civil rights, was pressed on whether he supports renewed federal police reform. He first reacted to a Friday statement from Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
“We’ve been here too many times before. We cannot continue down this path. America cannot stand silent,” Scott said. “Let it serve as a call to action for every lawmaker in our nation at every level.”
“I don’t know if there’s any law that can stop that evil that we saw,” Jordan told NBC host Chuck Todd on Sunday. “What strikes me is just the lack of respect for human life. I don’t know that any law, any training, any reform is gonna change … this man was handcuffed, they continued to beat him. And I was actually reminded, it’s hard to watch the whole thing, but as I watched it, I was reminded, we have a hearing probably two years ago when George Floyd’s brother came and testified before the Judiciary Committee, and it was one of those moments when fact and truth and emotion all came together.”
“During the questioning portion of that hearing, he said, ‘Life is precious’,” Jordan, also a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, recalled. “And it was one of those moments that grabbed everyone in that hearing both parties. The fact that we saw that these individuals, these five individuals, did not have any respect for life. And again, I don’t think that these five guys represent the vast, vast majority of law enforcement. But I don’t think that there’s anything we can do to stop the type of evil we saw in that video.”
Since officials released the graphic footage of Nichols’ fatal beatdown Friday, civil rights activists, including George Floyd and now Nichols’ family attorney Ben Crump and Al Sharpton have discussed working with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and others to reintroduce the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Despite it being a campaign promise of President Biden to pass federal-level police reform, the last major push stalled in the Senate in September 2021 following months of negotiations between Booker and Scott. A consensus couldn’t be reached on union involvement and qualified immunity for officers.
“It’s a different in philosophy. The Democrats always think it’s a new law that’s going to fix something that terrible,” Jordan said on Sunday.
Nichols’ death occurred despite Memphis already having implemented 2020-era police reforms, including requiring officers to intervene or deescalate if another officer uses excessive force. Nichols and the five former officers involved — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith—are all Black.
The five officers bonded out on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault and other offenses, and are expected to be arraigned in mid-February.
Crump and others have argued that even Black officers can exhibit racial bias against Black and Brown people, condemning what they describe as America’s “institutionalized police culture.”
Yet, other reports have pointed to the downgrading of qualifications to join the force, especially after post-Floyd protests and riots combined with surging crime contributed to police recruiting woes.
On Sunday, Todd attempted to bring another aspect of past proposed federal legislation, asking if the Republican congressman would support a federal ban on choke-holds.
“I’m for the best training possible. But what I’m not for is what we saw there. I don’t know that any training, any ban – there was no choke-holds used there – what they did there was just continue to beat Mr. Nichols. So, I don’t know that that’s the answer,” Jordan responded. “But no amount of training is going to change what we saw in that video.”