Memphis police dissolve unit that included officers who beat Tire Nichols to death

Memphis Police Dissolve Unit That Included Officers Who Beat Tire Nichols To Death

Memphis, Tennessee – The Memphis police chief disbanded the city’s so-called Scorpion unit on Saturday, citing a “cloud of disgrace” over recently released video showing several of his officers beating black motorist Tire Nichols to death afterward. from a traffic stop near your home.

Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis made the decision a day after the video was released, saying she heard from Nichols’ family, community leaders and police officers not involved in the incident. Davis’ announcement comes as the nation and the city struggle to deal with violence from officers, who are also black. The video renews questions about why fatal encounters with law enforcement continue to occur despite repeated calls for change.

Protesters marching through downtown Memphis cheered when they learned the unit had been disbanded. One protester said through a megaphone that “the unit that killed Tire has been permanently disbanded.”


Referring to “the egregious actions of a few” that disgraced the unit, Davis said it was imperative that the department “take proactive steps in the healing process.”

“It is in everyone’s best interest to permanently deactivate the Scorpion unit,” he said in a statement, adding that officers currently assigned to the unit agreed “without reservation” to the move.

The unit is made up of three teams of about 30 officers who focus on violent offenders in high-crime areas. The unit had been inactive since Nichols’ arrest on Jan. 7.

Scorpion stands for Street Crime Operations to Restore Peace to Our Neighborhoods.

In an interview Friday with The Associated Press, Davis said she wouldn’t shut down a unit if officers commit “an egregious act” and because she needed to keep that unit running.

“I have a problem believing that the Scorpion unit is a bad unit,” Davis said.

She became the first black female police chief in Memphis a year after George Floyd was killed by police officers. She was then the police chief of Durham, North Carolina, and responded by calling for sweeping police reform.

Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, attorneys for the Nichols family, said the move was “a decent and fair decision for all the citizens of Memphis.”

“We must keep in mind that this is only the next step in this journey for justice and accountability, as clearly this misconduct is not limited to these specialized units. It extends much further,” they said.

The five former Memphis Police Department officers involved in the incident were fired and charged with murder and other crimes in Nichols’ death three days after the arrest.

Videos released Friday left many unanswered questions about the traffic stop and about other law enforcement officers who stood by as Nichols lay motionless on the pavement.

The footage shows officers savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes while hurling insults at him in an assault the Nichols family legal team likened to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King. Nichols calls his mother before her limp body is propped up against a police vehicle and the officers fist bump her.

The five police officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — face up to 60 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.



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