President Biden on Friday afternoon spoke with the parents of Tyre Nichols, sharing sorrow in their loss after he was beaten to death by Memphis police during a traffic stop earlier this month — and responding to their call to renew efforts for police reforms.
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, and step-father, Rodney Wells, along with attorney Benjamin Crump, chatted with the president before disturbing footage that captured Memphis police officers savagely beating and tasering Nichols on Jan. 7.
The 29-year-old father died in the hospital three days later in the hospital.
During the call, Crump urged Biden and federal legislators to pass police reforms to “prevent the next Tyre Nichols from happening.”
“Hopefully the House of Representatives and Senators are also watching, and this gives you another opportunity to call for them to come back and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” Crump said.
“We’re in full agreement as Ben will tell you, Mom and Dad,” Biden said. “I couldn’t get that passed, but what I did by executive order, I made sure that every federal agent has to abide by that act.”
“Well that’s a start,” RowVaugh Wells said.
“We’ve got to get it for local police,” Biden added.
Nichols’ mother shared tender memories of her son, like the fact that he “actually tattooed my name on his arm.”
“That’s what you call something special,” Biden replied softly.
The president said that Nichols “was a hell of a kid and a handsome boy,” and that despite the sadness surrounding his death, it would likely have a positive impact on his siblings.
“He’s gonna be a model for them,” Biden said. “You know that awful expression, only the good die young.”
The president bonded with the Wells’ over the pain of the loss of their child and shared anecdotes about his late son, Beau, who died from a brain tumor in 2015.
“I still have the letters and notes and the memorabilia that Beau gave me,” Biden said. “As you walk out of the Oval Office, there’s a picture of him in a framed photograph of him, with one of my oldest granddaughters sitting on his shoulders.”
Biden offered advice to Nichols’ parents for navigating the emotionally devastating road of life without their son.
“If it gets really rough, don’t be afraid to ask for help,” the president said. “This is like if you were in a battlefield and something happened to yourself. It’s called post-traumatic stress.”
“I hope you guys can come and see me someday, I’d love to meet you,” he added.
Read more of the Post’s coverage of Tyre Nichols’ beating death
“When you invite us to the White House, we’ll be there,” Nichols’ mother responded.
“You’re invited right now!” the president exclaimed.
Five police officers who were involved in Nichols’ arrest — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith — were fired by the Memphis Police Department.
All five have been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression.
Biden said in a statement Friday that he was “deeply pained” by the attack and called for a “swift, full, and transparent investigation” following the release of the police footage.
“We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all,” he said. “Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.”