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Memphis Police to deactivate SCORPION Unit after video of Tyre Nichols' beating released

Memphis Police Force Investigation
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jan 28, 2023

One day after Memphis Police released bodycam footage showing five officers fatally beating 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, the department announced Saturday it is deactivating its SCORPION Unit.

The SCORPION Unit was launched in November 2021 and consisted of four teams whose primary focus was “violent crime reduction and the saturation of hot spot areas throughout the city.” The unit was created in response to a particularly violent year in the city.

Steven J. Mulroy, the district attorney of Shelby County, Tennessee, said the unit was involved in the incident involving Nichols, but did not go into details.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis said the unit was disbanded as the department takes steps to rebuild trust with the community. 

“In the process of listening intently to the family of Tyre Nichols, community leaders, and the uninvolved officers who have done quality work in their assignments, it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION Unit,” Davis said. “The officers currently assigned to the unit agree unreservedly with this next step. 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.”

The unit’s disbandment comes as protests have spread throughout the city in recent days. Demonstrators blocked city streets for several hours on Friday after officials released the video. 

Five officers were charged with murder, among charges, following Nichols’ death.

Note: A previous version of this story misspelled Tyre Nichols’ first name.