INSTITUTE, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia State University students are reacting to the arrest of a Memphis police officer who graduated from the historically black college in 2013.
Desmond A. Mills Jr. is one of five officers charged in relation to the fatal beating of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols. He died three days after being beaten by police officers at a traffic stop.
“It’s disgusting and it’s heartbreaking to keep seeing it on the news,” said Janice Garner, a WVSU student. “Like every day there’s a new case about people dying from the hands of police brutality.”
According to online school records, Mills majored in criminal justice and law enforcement at WVSU. He also played for the Yellow Jackets’ football team.
“I’m often afraid every time I interact with a police officer just because of situations like this because you never know what could happen,” said Alvin Bowers, a WVSU student. “You could think you’re not doing anything wrong and your life is in danger.”
Mills and four other former Memphis police officers were charged in relation to the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols. Each officer was charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.
Those officers were released on bond, according to Nexstar’s WREG, and were fired from the Memphis Police Department in Tennessee.
“Shocked, honestly, that was my first reaction,” said Antwon Johnson, a WVSU student. “You would think there would be a reason, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a reason for something that brutal to happen, that gruesome.”
Some students believe this will not be the last incident of police brutality, but they said something needs to be done to prevent it.
“It just shows injustice towards African Americans in society and just shows how marginalized we are as a group of people,” Bowers said.
“Nothing is going to change,” Garner said. “We’re just going to have to keep screaming and yelling at the top of our lungs to stop killing us but nobody listens.”