Sheriff Massee sounds off on Tyre Nichols incident
Like many sheriffs around the country, Baldwin County's Bill Massee broke the "blue wall of silence" back in the spring of 2020 following the George Floyd murder. Wrote Massee at the time:
It doesn't matter why he was arrested nor what crime he is accused of committing. It doesn't matter what he has on his criminal record nor if he even has one. It doesn't matter what spin the media or anyone tries to put on this action. It doesn't matter if he had health or personal issues or if he was the perfect specimen of condition. The only health issue that I witnessed was a knee on a man's neck cutting off blood flow and his breathing. What I viewed in my opinion was a criminal action.The first rule of law enforcement is this; when an individual is cuffed or restrained and under arrest, at that moment he is under your care, custody and control. A law enforcement officer is at that time responsible for his health and welfare. To put it bluntly when the cuffs go on the game is over. We have so many great people in my profession and conduct like this hurts our reputation and standing in every community. Please do not let the actions of a few change your feelings about the many people that truly serve and protect.
This weekend, meanwhile, Massee once again weighed in on another deadly law enforcement-involved incident, this one in Memphis. Wrote Massee on his Facebook page:
Last week some of my friends called to advise me that the video of the Memphis arrest was the worst that they have ever seen. Even with these calls to prepare me I was still overwhelmed with the violence of this beating. These police officers actions violated every policy, standard, rule and social position that good law enforcement officers stand for and represent. Nothing on this video represented proper police actions.
I just completed my 34th year representing you as sheriff. Since taking office I have attempted to continually professionalize the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. I have been blessed with not only great employees but the opportunity to represent not only the best county but the best citizens anywhere. Our employees work so hard as an accredited agency to professionally represent everyone in our county and our state. We are constantly working in our schools and our community and attempt to be transparent as we provide law enforcement and public safety fairly to everyone.
The actions of the Memphis five greatly hurt the reputation of our profession nationwide. My true feelings are anger and sadness. All of my employees and I proudly stand in support of the family of Tyre Nichols and the Memphis District Attorney’s Office. We hope that this tragic event will somehow bring positive changes and more communication between law enforcement and the communities that they represent.
The five officers involved in the Nichols case are expected to be arraigned at some point next month. Each is facing, among other charges, second-degree murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping.
The incident occurred on Jan. 7. Nichols succumbed to his injuries on Jan. 10, and all five officers were arrested last week.