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Kamala Harris to attend Tyre Nichols’ funeral

<i>Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images</i><br/>Vice President Kamala Harris
Getty Images
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Vice President Kamala Harris

By Jasmine Wright and Sonnet Swire, CNN

Vice President Kamala Harris will attend the funeral of Tyre Nichols in Memphis on Wednesday, according to a White House official, joining other senior level Biden administration officials at the service.

Harris spoke over the phone on Tuesday morning with Nichols’ mother and step father, RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, the official said.

“The Vice President expressed her deep condolences and offered the family support as they continue to navigate this challenging time,” the official added.

Harris is attending at the invitation of the Wells family. White House Director for the Office of Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms and senior adviser to the president Mitch Landrieu will also be in attendance.

Harris’ contact with Nichols’ parents comes after President Joe Biden spoke with the Wells family on Friday, hours before video of Nichols’ beating by police officers was released by Memphis officials.

The administration presence at the funeral will come as come as prospects for federal legislative reforms on policing, which the Wells family has pushed for, appear slim.

The city of Memphis on Friday night released body camera and surveillance video of the January 7 traffic stop and beating that led to the 29-year-old’s death from his injuries three days later in a local hospital. The release came a day after five Memphis police officers, who also are Black and have been fired, were charged with murder.

Nichols is seen on video screaming for his mother as Memphis police officers struck him multiple times — including in the face while his hands were restrained, CNN previously reported. Although paramedics arrived minutes after officers disengaged, Nichols appears to be left on the pavement without assistance for stretches of time before an ambulance comes.

The footage drew stunned reaction from law enforcement experts and outrage from officials including Biden, who said it was “yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day.”

In her own statement Friday, Harris said, “Tyre Nichols should have made it home to his family. Yet, once again, America mourns the life of a son and father brutally cut short at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve.”

She added, “The persistent issue of police misconduct and use of excessive force in America must end now.”

Harris’ presence at the funeral comes after it was announced that Nichols’ parents will attend the president’s State of the Union address on February 7.

Congressional Black Caucus Executive Director Vincent Evans tweeted on Sunday that the caucus chairman, Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, invited Nichols’ parents to Washington as guests of the caucus, and that they have accepted the invitation.

Biden is facing renewed calls to discuss police reform at his address to Congress. Horsford said in a statement Sunday that the CBC is requesting a White House meeting this week to push for negotiations.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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