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Memphis SCORPION Unit, comprised of 90 officers, deactivated after Tyre Nichols’ death

By Samiar Nefzi

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — The Memphis Police Department announced Saturday it has deactivated its SCORPION (Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhood) Unit.

The department has faced criticism of the unit following the death of Tyre Nichols. The five now former officers who responded and played a role in Nichols’ arrest were part of the SCORPION Unit.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis met with officers assigned to the unit to discuss its future, ultimately deciding it was appropriate to disband.

“The officers currently assigned to the unit agree unreservedly with this next step,” the release said. “While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonor on the title SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department, take proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted.”

Back to jail: Woman learning what not to bring a probation officer On Friday, Jan. 27, the police department released an hour-long video of the encounter with 29-year-old Tyre Nichols from Jan. 7.

Memphis SCORPION Unit, comprised of 90 officers, deactivated after Tyre Nichols’ death

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy has charged Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression related to Nichols’ death.

On Jan. 7, Nichols was pulled over for alleged reckless driving.

“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Nichols could be heard saying on body camera footage.

Chief Davis later said her department has not found any indications of reckless driving.

The body camera footage has sparked outrage across the nation. Many have called what was captured “brutal” and “heinous.”

As Nichols was being arrested and after he was captured a second time, officers could be seen striking him multiple times as he called for his mother.

“Mom! Mom!” Nichols cried out.

The altercation left Nichols beaten and bloody. He was transported to an area hospital in critical condition.

Nichols died three days after the attack on Jan. 10.

“They beat my son to death,” said Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells. “Yes. He cried out for me because I’m his mother and that’s what he was trying to get home to safety.” Chief Davis announced on Jan. 15 the five officers violated department policy, with the DOJ launching an investigation on the 18th.

“People don’t know what those five police officers did to our family,” said Wells.

Ten days later, Bean, Haley, Mills, Martin, and Smith were fired following an internal investigation.

“They really don’t know what they did to their own families,” Wells said. “They have put their own families in harm’s way. They have brought shame to their own families. They brought shame to the Black community.” The five officers were charged on Jan. 26 by the district attorney.

“We want to proclaim that this is the blueprint going forward for any time, any officers,” said national civil rights attorney Ben Crump. “Whether they be black or white, will be held accountable.”

If the five officers are convicted of second-degree murder, they could face prison terms of 15 to 60 years, under Tennessee law.

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