Memphis Police Department Scorpion Unit Permanently Disabled After Tire Nichols Death

The Memphis Police Department said it permanently disabled its Scorpion unit after Tire Nichols died.

“In the process of listening carefully to Tire Nichols’ family, community leaders and uninvolved officers who have done a quality job in their mission, it is in everyone’s interest to permanently deactivate the SCORPION unit.” , the department said in a statement on Saturday.

According to the statement, “Officers currently assigned to the unit wholeheartedly agree with this next step. As the heinous actions of a few cast a cloud of dishonor over SCORPION stock, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department, take proactive steps in the healing process for all affected.

The news came a day after authorities released video footage showing five former Memphis officers punching and kicking Nichols during a Jan. 7 traffic stop. The 29-year-old died three days later on January 10.

The five officers were all members of Scorpion, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. The vaunted Anti-Violence Unit was launched in November 2021 when the city’s murder rate was skyrocketing and the community called for action.

Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci, attorneys for Nichols’ family, said in a statement that eliminating the unit was just one step in achieving justice.

“The Nichols family and their legal team find the decision to permanently disband this unit to be both appropriate and proportionate to the tragic death of Tire Nichols, and also a decent and just decision for all citizens of Memphis,” they wrote. said in a joint statement. Saturday.

“We hope other cities will take similar action with their police units saturated,” the duo said.

The Memphis unit was made up of four teams of officers whose primary goal, according to the department, was to reduce violent crime “and saturation of sensitive areas throughout the city.” Mayor Jim Strickland promoted unity as part of the solution in his January 2022 State of the City Address, touting it as part of an anti-crime strategy that also included a crime prevention program. gun violence response and more money for the police department.

The mayor said that in the unit’s first three months, it made more than 566 arrests and seized more than $103,000 in cash and 253 weapons.

The five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Desmond Mills Jr. – were fired by the police department and charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of kidnapping aggravated, one count of official oppression and one count of aggravated assault.

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