The chief of Memphis police disbanded the infamous Scorpion unit. The chief cited a “cloud of dishonour” from the video that went viral showing some of its officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after he was stopped.
Cerelyn Davis made the decision a day after the disturbing video emerged, saying she listened to Nichols’ relatives, community leaders and other officers in reaching the decision. The decision was made when the country struggled to come to terms with the violence of the officers, who are, curiously, Black.
The news was met with cheers by protestors.
One protestor said over a bullhorn that “the unit that killed Tyre has been permanently disbanded”.
Referring to “the heinous actions of a few” that dishonoured the unit, Davis contradicted an earlier statement that she would keep the unit. She said it was imperative that the department “take proactive steps in the healing process”.
“It is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the Scorpion unit,” she said in a statement.
The disbanded unit was composed of 3 teams of about 30 officers whose primary goal is to target violent offenders in high-crime areas.
The word ‘Scorpion’ stands for Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace In Our Neighborhoods.
“The whole idea that the Scorpion unit is a bad unit, I just have a problem with that,” Davis said then.
A year after George Floyd was brutally murdered, Davis became the first Black female chief in Memphis. At the time, she was chief in Durham, North Carolina, and had called for sweeping police reform.
Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, lawyers for the Nichols family, said the move was “a decent and just decision”.
“We must keep in mind that this is just the next step on this journey for justice and accountability, as clearly this misconduct is not restricted to these specialty units. It extends so much further,” they said.
The officers involved are: Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith. They have been accordingly fired and charged with murder and other crimes in Nichols’ death.
If convicted of second-degree murder, they face up to 60 years of jail time.
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