SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Police Department Chief William McManus condemned the behaviors of five Memphis police officers Friday, moments after the city released video of the men beating Tyre Nichols unconscious on Jan. 7.
Nichols died three days later.
The local district attorney on Thursday charged each police officer with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression
KENS 5 showed McManus a portion of the surveillance camera video, which depicts officers taking turns punching the handcuffed 29-year-old.
"It was hard to watch – imagining someone taking a beating like that – especially at the hands of police, who are supposed to be protecting people," McManus said, in response.
"It goes against the grain of everything we are taught," he added. "It goes against the grain of our training, our philosophy, our work in the community."
McManus said training is key to ensuring San Antonio police officers do not behave in the same way.
"It's all about de-escalation. It's all about how we treat people," he said. "Our guiding principles of compassion, integrity, fairness, and respect—it's how we conduct ourselves on the street."
But McManus said incidents like this hinder police departments' efforts to earn their communities' trust.
"As much as we've been working with the community here in San Antonio, this will set us back," he said. "Ten steps forward, 20 steps backwards."
KENS 5 also asked McManus about relations between police and Black residents.
"For so long, Black and brown people have told us a power dynamic exists between people who wear the badge and people who are ethnic minorities—and that that dynamic exists, even when officers are Black and brown themselves," reporter Matt Houston told McManus. "They blame systemic racism. Do you think that power dynamic is at play here and, if so, how do we rectify that?"
"There was definitely a power dynamic at play in the video that we saw. It's the definition of 'arrogance of authority,'" McManus responded. "I hope that they were rogue officers and that's not the norm anywhere. Here, again, training and supervision are the keys. We certainly have a great training academy with a great curriculum. We have supervisors who are very attentive, making sure officers are doing what they're supposed to be doing."
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