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Memphis police dismantle the SCORPION unit, responsible for the fatal beating of Tire Nichols


Protesters in Memphis celebrated the decision of the city's police chief. “The unit that killed Tire has been permanently disbanded,” an activist shouted in the streets through a megaphone.

By Adrian Sainz -

The Associated Press

The Memphis police chief disbanded the security force's so-called SCORPION unit on Saturday after some of its officers bludgeoned Tire Nichols to death, reversing an earlier statement that she would keep the unit intact.

Police Director Cerelyn


Davis said she took into account pleas from Nichols' family, community leaders and uninvolved officers in making the decision.

Referring to "the egregious actions of a few" that cast "a cloud of disgrace" over the unit, Davis said it was imperative that the department take "proactive steps in the healing process."

Police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, after the brutal attack on Tire Nichols, on January 7, 2023.AP

"It is in everyone's best interest to deactivate the SCORPION unit permanently," he said in a statement.

She said 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 combat violent criminals in high-crime areas.

The group had been inactive since Nichols' arrest on January 7.

[Punching, kicking and batoning: 5 chilling moments from the video of the fatal police beating of Tire Nichols]

SCORPION is an acronym that stands for Street Crime Operations to Restore Peace to our Neighborhoods.

Protesters marching through downtown Memphis cheered when they heard the unit had been disbanded.

An activist said through a megaphone: "The unit that killed Tire has been permanently disbanded."

In an interview Friday with The Associated Press news agency, Davis said he would not shut down a unit if officers committed "some egregious act," adding that he needed the group to keep going.

Latinos join the protests in Memphis over the death of Tire Nichols at the hands of the police

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“The idea that the SCORPION unit is a bad unit, I just have a problem with that,” Davis said then.

The group's disbandment comes at a time when the country and the city of Memphis were in shock after the release of a video showing the brutal beating of a black motorist by officers.

The footage released Friday left many unanswered questions about Nichols' traffic stop and other officers who did nothing to help him as he lay unconscious on the pavement.

The video also renewed questions about why fatal encounters with law enforcement continue to occur after numerous similar tragedies and calls not to repeat them.

[Protesters in a dozen states demand an end to racial violence]

The five former Memphis Police Department officers involved in the incident, who are also black, were fired and charged with murder and other crimes in Nichols' death three days after his arrest.

The footage shows police savagely beating Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx worker, for three minutes as he yells for them to stop.

The Nichols family legal team has compared the attack to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.

Nichols called his mother before he was knocked unconscious and reloaded onto the police car as the officers gave a fist bump in approval.

The five 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.

One of the daughters of Rodney King (the man who suffered a police beating in 1991) repudiates the brutality against Tire Nichols

Jan 28, 202301:50

Davis has said other officers are under investigation, and Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner said two officers have been released without pay while their conduct is investigated.

Rodney Wells, Nichols' stepfather, said the family "will continue to seek justice" and noted that several of the officers present provided no assistance, making them "just as guilty as the officers who threw the punches."

A Memphis police spokeswoman declined to comment on the role played by other officers who showed up at the scene.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-01-29

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