Scorpion unit disbanded after officers filmed the murder of Tire Nichols
A US police task force whose officers are accused of murdering Tire Nichols during a violent arrest has been disbanded.
The 50-strong Scorpion unit was tasked with bringing down crime rates in certain areas of Memphis, Tennessee.
Five of his officers attempted to detain Tire at a traffic stop before repeatedly hitting him, although video footage appeared to show no provocation by the 29-year-old.
The five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith – were charged with second-degree murder three days later when Tire died in hospital of “profuse bleeding from severe beatings”.
They are also charged with aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, misconduct and suppression of office.
Scorpion stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.
The Memphis Police Department issued a statement saying “it is in everyone’s best interest to permanently disable the entire unit.”
It added, “While the heinous actions of a few dishonor the Scorpion title, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department, take proactive steps in the healing process for all affected.”
Attorneys representing Tire’s family hailed the move as “both appropriate and proportionate to the tragic death of Tire Nichols and also a fair and just decision for all citizens of Memphis.”
Four of the five officers were released from custody Friday morning. Two of them, Martin and Mills, have reportedly indicated they will plead not guilty.
In footage of the incident, Tire can be heard calmly telling officers “All right” and “OK” as they pull him out of his car, adding, “Wait, I’m not doing anything.”
Although he offers no visible resistance, he appears to be thrown to the ground by officers with guns drawn and does not fight back when they attempt to handcuff him.
One of the officers then appears to try to use a taser on him, after which he breaks free and runs down the street.
After a short chase, he is pepper sprayed, punched, kicked and hit with a baton by the police.
Tyre, now limp, is heard calling for his mother before officers leave him propped against a police car.
Two fire officers appeared at the scene after 10 minutes with medical kits, but stood around while officers banged their fists and Tyre received no attention for another 10 minutes.
Officers initially claimed Tire was pulled over for reckless driving, but the start of the traffic stop was not filmed for reasons that are unclear.
His family claims he was an avid photographer and tried to photograph the sunset.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis previously said her department reviewed footage, including body cameras, to “determine what [the] probable reason was the arrest of Tyre.
She said investigators “couldn’t prove that — … It doesn’t mean something didn’t happen, but there’s no proof.”
Ms Davis said officers “already ramped up to about 10” during the stop and were “aggressive, loud, using profane language and probably scared Mr. Nichols from the start”.
Demonstrations erupted across the United States on Friday night, with estimates of up to 100 people each gathering in Memphis, New York and Washington, DC, and dozens of protesters seen in Philadelphia.
The protests remained largely peaceful, although two people were arrested in Times Square after a police car was crashed into.
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said: “I don’t want us to burn our town down and tear up the streets because that’s not what my son stood for.
“If you are here for me and Tyre, you will protest peacefully.”
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more stories like this, Visit our news page.
Get the top news, feel-good stories, analysis and more
https://metro.co.uk/2023/01/29/scorpion-unit-disbanded-after-officers-filmed-murdering-tyre-nichols-18183389/ Scorpion unit disbanded after officers filmed the murder of Tire Nichols