Police unit disbanded after death of Black man from brutal beating

Wednesday 01st February 2023 05:47 EST

Memphis (US): The Memphis police chief disbanded the city’s so-called Scorpion unit, citing a “cloud of dishonor” from newly released video that showed some of its officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after stopping the Black motorist.

Police director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis acted a day after the harrowing video emerged, saying she listened to Nichols’ relatives, community leaders and uninvolved officers in making the decision. Her announcement came as the nation and the city struggled to come to grips with the violence of the officers, who are also Black. The video renewed doubts about why fatal encounters with law enforcement keep happening despite repeated calls for change.

Protesters marching though downtown Memphis cheered when they heard the unit had been dissolved. One protestor said that “the unit that killed Tyre has been permanently disbanded. ” Referring to “the heinous actions of a few” that dishonored 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. She said the officers assigned to it agreed “unreservedly. ”

The unit is composed of three teams of about 30 officers whose stated aim is to target violent offenders in areas beset by high crime. It had been inactive since Nichols’ January 7 arrest.

In an interview, Davis had said she would not shut down a unit if a few officers commit “some egregious act” and because she needed it to continue to work. Davis became the first Black female chief in Memphis one year after George Floyd was killed. Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, lawyers for the Nichols family, said the move was “a decent and just decision. ” The five disgraced officers have been fired and charged with murder and other crimes in Nichols’ death, which came three days after the arrest. They face up to 60 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. Blake Ballin, the lawyer for Mills, said videos “produced as many questions as they have answers.”

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