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Experts weigh-in on what they think contributed to actions of Memphis officers in Tyre Nichols beating

Some believe it’s the culture of police departments, while others believe the officers caught on video acted alone.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The video release of Sacramento native Tyre Nichols being beaten by Memphis police officers after a traffic stop is leading to greater discussion about what could have caused the officers to react the way they did.

Some believe it’s the culture of police departments, while others believe they acted alone.

"One of the reactions I had — which people I think find it hard — is that I cried, actually. Because I'm a father, I'm a grandfather, and I can just see that happening to one of my children or my grandchildren,” said David Thomas.

Thomas is a professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. He says it scared him to watch the video of the beating and, as a retired police officer with decades of experience, he believes it had to do with the culture of policing.

"For years the media has always dubbed it as being a Black and White thing. It's always a White police officer beating a Black man. The reality is it is the law enforcement culture,” said Thomas.

He says this is especially the case with special units within police departments where he says it could become easier to violate a person's constitutional rights.

Ed Obayashi, a deputy sheriff and legal advisor for the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office who conducts serious use-of-force investigations, also watched the video.

"It's without a doubt, in [my] professional experience, the worst case of excessive force that I've come across,” said Obayashi.

He doesn’t think the beating was a result of policing culture and instead thinks it’s the result of officers going rogue.

"I doubt very much that the culture of the Memphis Police Department had anything to do with this incident. This was the collective application of force by a group of officers. A small group of officers that basically went rogue. They let their emotions basically overcome their judgement,” he said.

He says most of the small, specialized units tend to develop their own standards of policing and there needs to be a certain degree of accountability.

"My advice to departments when it comes to monitoring or addressing special enforcement units is that there has to be formal system of accountability and scrutiny… sometimes more intense than the general patrol functions,” said Obayashi.

Thomas agrees with holding individuals accountable and he says it needs to involve everyone up the chain of command, including supervisors and even the police chief.

WATCH MORE ON ABC10: Tyre Nichols' longtime friend remembers his happiness, joy

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