White Men Can’t Tase

February 7, 2023 in Columnists, News by RBN Staff



Crowds have been taking to the streets to protest the death of one Tyre Nichols, a black man, whose death came three days after a horrific beat down administered by five Memphis police officers, all of whom were also black. Tyre’s alleged offense was reckless driving, for which he was stopped by the police; officers then yanked him out of his vehicle and attempted to get him prostrate on the pavement. During this calf scramble, the terrified Tyre saw an opening, broke free, and ran. The aforementioned officers caught up with him and administered the fatal beat down. All across the nation,Tyre’s death was blamed on—wait for it—white supremacy.

For many who watched the videos, though, the beat down appeared to be more than just a reaction by amped-up cops after catching up with a fleeing suspect; it looked like something personal. Moreover, the whole traffic stop appeared to have been orchestrated, multiple units from the street crime squad called  SCORPION converging on the scene. Tyre—by all accounts a decent fellow with no criminal history—hadn’t run over anyone and wasn’t speeding away after committing some violent crime. Yet instead of asking for his drivers license and explaining why he had been stopped, they opened his car door, pulled him out of the vehicle, and began manhandling him—completely over-the-top behavior for a garden-variety traffic stop. There is an as yet unsubstantiated rumor circulating that Tyre was dating the ex-girlfriend and “baby mama” of one of the officers. Whether it was that or some other perceived transgression, Tyre appears to have been the target of some kind of personal vendetta, and he ended up absorbing more punishment than was probably intended to be meted out. No white supremacy here; just straight-up ghetto thuggery carried out under color of law.

But there had to be a white man in the woodpile somewhere, and a white devil named Preston Hemphill was soon smoked out. So why wasn’t he charged with second-degree murder like the others, enquiring minds want to know. Well, that’s a no-brainer—because he wasn’t a participant in the fatal beat down. His body cam shows him running up to Tyre’s vehicle with his gun drawn and then switching to his Taser when another officer opens the car door to get a grip on Tyre and extract him. Hemphill crouches over Tyre with his Taser poised and then actually fires his Taser at Tyre when he breaks free and begins to run. In order for a Taser to be effective, both barbed darts have to penetrate the subject’s skin to facilitate the incapacitating shock that makes a person drop like a sack of spuds. Only one dart struck Tyre, though, and he continued to run. Although Hemphill initially took out on foot after Tyre, he soon turned around and made his way back to the location of the stop where he helped another officer flush pepper spray out of his eyes. So although Hemphill assisted his fellow Scorpions in the initial attempt to nab Tyre, he apparently didn’t have a dog in the fight as far as needing to personally participate in the punishment phase of the plot.

It’s pure speculation on my part, but I believe that had Hemphill been a better shot with his Taser, Tyre might still be alive. If both darts had hit home, he would have dropped in his tracks and gone completely limp, making it a piece of cake to get the handcuffs on him. Their prey now captured and under control without the need for an adrenaline-pumping chase, the masterminds of the plot could have bullied him around and arrested him on trumped-up charges to drive home whatever twisted point they were trying to make. That still would have been an intolerable state of affairs to be sure, but at least one that poor Tyre could have survived.