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Memphis police shut down the SCORPION unit whose officers were accused of culling Nichols’ photos

The Memphis Police Department announced Saturday that it has “permanently deactivated” SCORPION unitone day after the release Shocking video That showed the violent arrest of Nichols photos earlier this month. The five former officers involved in Nichols’ arrest, who have since been charged with second-degree murder in his death, were all part of that unit.

The police said in a statement that the decision came after Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis met with members of the unit on Saturday “to discuss the department’s and community’s course in the wake of the tragic death of Tyre Nichols.”

Administrators have come to the conclusion that it is “in everyone’s interest to permanently deactivate the SCORPION unit,” the statement said.

The department added that the Scorpio officers agreed “without reservations” with the decision.

The SCORPION unit has been inactive since Nichols’ arrest on Jan. 7, the city of Memphis reported in a news release Friday.

Memphis Police Chief Serene Davis
Memphis Police Chief Serene Davis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 27, 2023.

Gerald Herbert/AP

SCORPION, which stands for Street Crime Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods, has included over two dozen officers assigned to SCORPION teams. They wore black berets and black tactical jackets with “POLIS” emblazoned on the front and back, and drove dark-colored Dodge Chargers with a SCORPION stamp on them.

Crime squads patrolled in groups and sometimes used low-level traffic stops as a way to find violent criminals, drugs or weapons, according to the department.

in the news “Since this event occurred, the SCORPION unit has been and remains inactive,” said Mayor of Memphis Jim Strickland, posted Jan. 27, though he did not say when the unit was disabled. Strickland also said the city is “beginning with an independent, external review of the training, policies, and operations of our specialized units.”

“While the outrageous actions of a few people cast a shadow of shame on SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department, take proactive steps in the healing process for all affected,” Saturday’s statement read.

29-year-old Nichols He died on January 10th, three days after he was violently arrested during a traffic stop by Memphis police officers. Bodycam and surveillance video released Friday showed Nichols being pepper sprayed and kicked in the head while being bound, punched and struck multiple times with a baton.

The five former officers, who have since been fired, have been identified as Demetrius Haley, Tadarius Bean, Emmett Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. Hired from 2017 to 2020, they were between the ages of 24 and 32. It was all five officers charged with premeditated murder and other crimes.

Pat Melton and Chrissy Hallowell contributed to this report.

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