U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton joined family members and friends Wednesday at the funeral of Tyre Nichols, whose death last month once again focused attention on police brutality.
Harris embraced Nichols' mother before addressing the congregation at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
The vice president said the police officers accused in Nichols' death took an oath to keep the public safe.
"This is a family that lost their son and their brother through an act of violence at the hands and the feet of people who had been charged with keeping them safe," Harris said. "Tyre Nichols should have been safe."
Both Harris and Sharpton urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, as Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd sat in the congregation.
The act, named for the Black man murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis in 2020, contains several reforms, including prohibiting chokeholds and no-knock warrants and making it easier to bring charges against offending officers.
The Rev. J. Lawrence Turner, pastor of the Boulevard Christian Church, said Nichols, 29, was "a good person, a beautiful soul, a son, a father, a brother, a friend, a human being" who was gone too soon. Nichols grew up in California and moved to Memphis before the pandemic.
Friends last week described him as joyful and kind, quick with a smile and often silly.
Nichols' mother and stepfather, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, had invited the families of others who had been killed by the police. Sharpton began the eulogy by recognizing them.
"We understand that there are concerns about public safety. We understand that there are needs that deal with crime," Sharpton said. "But you don't fight crime by becoming criminals yourself."
Five Black officers were fired and charged in connection with the death of Nichols, who was also Black. Two other officers were disciplined, and three emergency responders were fired.
The Memphis Police Department also disbanded a special unit that included six of the officers involved. The group had targeted violent criminals in high-crime areas.