Memphis police shut down SCORPION unit whose officers were accused of killing Tire Nichols

The Memphis Police Department announced Saturday that it has “permanently deactivated” its scorpion unita day after posting shocking video Earlier this month, Tire Nichols was violently arrested. All five former officers involved in the arrest of Nichols, who were later charged with second-degree murder in his death, were members of the department.

The decision came after Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis met with members of the department Saturday to “discuss the path forward for the department and the community following the tragic death of Tire Nichols,” police said in a statement.

Officials concluded that “it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION device,” the statement read.

SCORPION officials agreed with the decision “without reservations,” the department added.

The SCORPION force has been idle since 1 January. Nichols was arrested on the 7th, the city of Memphis said in a news release on Friday.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press on Jan. 17 in Memphis, Tennessee. 27th, 2023.

Gerald Herbert/AP

SCORPION stands for Street Crime Operations to Restoring Peace in Our Neighborhoods and includes over two dozen officers assigned to SCORPION teams. They wear black hoodies and black tactical vests with “POLICE” printed on the front and back, and drive dark Dodge Chargers with the SCORPION stamp.

Crime squads patrol in groups, sometimes using reasonable low-level traffic stops as a way to look for violent criminals, drugs or weapons, according to the department.

In a press release published on January 1. On Sept. 27, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said, “Scorpion Force has been inactive since this incident,” although he did not say when the device was deactivated. Strickland also said the city was “initiating an external independent review of our professional unit’s training, policies and operations.”

“While some heinous actions have cast a pall of shame on Scorpio’s title, we at the Memphis Police Department must take proactive steps in the recovery process of all those affected,” Saturday’s statement read.

Nichols, 29 Died Jan 10, was violently arrested three days later during a traffic stop by Memphis police. Body camera and surveillance footage released Friday showed Nichols being pepper sprayed, kicked in the head while restrained, punched and struck multiple times with a baton.

The five former officers who have been fired have been identified as Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. They were employed from 2017 to 2020 and aged between 24 and 32.All five cadres were Charged with murder and other crimes.

Pat Milton and Chrissy Hallowell contributed to this report.

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