We learned this week that the family of Tyre Nichols, who was slain earlier this year, plans to file a civil lawsuit against the city of Memphis. That move is expected on Wednesday by attorney Benjamin Crump, the family representative.

Although five officers were fired and charged with second-degree murder; a sixth officer was relieved of duty, along with two EMTs; and a Memphis Fire Department lieutenant was fired, that was not enough for the family’s grief and loss, and we agree.

A similar action may be in the works for the family of Jayland Walker, who was shot 46 times by police officers in Akron, Ohio, last summer. A grand jury brought no charges against the eight officers involved in what began as a traffic stop that escalated in a barrage of 96 bullets fired at the fleeing 25-year-old Black man.

There is certainly more to this horrific incident, but once Walker was no longer a threat, why gun him down? Why not just apprehend him? This is a question we have been posing for years without any clear sense of understanding and justice.

At least the Nichols family can feel some small sense of solace with the charges against the officers in Memphis, while the Walker family will have to wait and see if other violations warrant the Justice Department stepping in.

Again, we are flummoxed by the ongoing police abuse that even the several existing consent decrees, where police departments failing to reform face the loss of federal funds, have only been modestly effective. Obviously, other steps are necessary, including the removal of qualified immunity and more potent civilian complaint review boards, where they exist at all.

And it’s no victory at all that one family has some glimmer of justice and another is denied. 

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