UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May and Police Chief Joe Farrow Statement on Killing of Tyre Nichols

UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May and Police Chief Joe Farrow issued the following statement today (Jan. 27):

Like you, we were horrified by the brutal killing of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers. We join other voices in expressing our anger and disgust, and we condemn the officers’ actions, while recognizing that condemnation is not justice. Tyre was 29 years old, and his mother recalled his love of skateboarding, taking pictures, sunsets and his family. Now we share our grief with his mother and his loved ones.


Our minds are still coming to terms with how this could happen, again. We wonder when we will see true change that make such incidents a thing of the past. All too often, a person of color at a traffic stop can feel like Schrödinger’s cat — existing in an uncertain state that can be simultaneously considered both alive and dead, subject only to a potential random interaction with an incompetent/fallible/malicious law enforcement officer that may or may not occur. It is as exhausting as it is tragic.

On our campus, we have taken extraordinary efforts over the last decade to update our campus safety practices, and we are frequently pointed to as a model for the UC system and for other universities across the country. Our independent Police Accountability Board, a civilian model, was established nearly a decade ago, and last fall we launched a Campus Safety Oversight Committee as a response to a task force on campus safety reforms.

These initiatives push us forward. But even with these measures and others we have well underway, Tyre Nichols’ death comes on the heels of an already difficult week, with the death of one of our students, the shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay that impacted the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and incidents in Oakland and elsewhere.

We recognize that our faculty, students and staff may be grappling with collective or individual trauma, or both, related to all of these events. We ask each member of our community to be kind, patient and compassionate as the days proceed and more comes to light about Tyre’s death.

As a reminder, Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) offers confidential services for students, and consultation and crisis response for employees, students and parents (530-752-0871).

The Academic and Staff Assistance Program (ASAP) offers confidential services to all UC Davis and UC Davis Health faculty, staff and families (530-752-2727).

We encourage you to find community on campus during this time. After-hours services are available this weekend to those seeking additional support. In addition to healing spaces, campus leadership is putting together opportunities for advocacy and engagement. We look forward to sharing those with you.

We stand united against police brutality of any kind. Let’s remember that atrocities like that against Tyre Nichols reverberate across families, communities and the country. Let’s find strength in coming together to make positive change in our own communities.

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