Memphis Investigating SCORPION Police Unit

USA News

  • The mayor of Memphis says the city is launching an independent investigation into its SCORPION Unit.
  • Five officers with the unit have been charged with murdering 29-year-old Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop.
  • Lawyers for Nichols’ family have called on the city to end the unit altogether. 

Memphis, Tennessee, will hire an outside firm to investigate the police department’s SCORPION Unit, the specialized team targeting violent crime that was involved in Tyre Nichols’ killing. 

The unit, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace In Our Neighborhoods, was launched in 2021 and was intended to fight street crime. 

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy confirmed at a press conference on Thursday that the officers charged with murder after 29-year-old Tyre Nichols was beaten to death were part of the police force’s SCORPION Unit.

“It is clear that these officers violated the department’s policies and training,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Thursday.

The police force’s other specialized units will also have their training, policies, and operations reviewed, Strickland said.

Lawyers representing Nichols’ family have called for the Memphis Police Department to disband its SCORPION Unit and similar specialized squads, according to ABC24

“These often aggressive encounters flat out destruct trust between police and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve,” Ben Crump, an attorney for the family, wrote in an open letter on Thursday, published in ABC24. “But as we saw in the tragic and unnecessary death of Tyre Nichols, [they] can also lead to physical injury or death when the culture of unchecked, pro-active policing overtakes common sense.”

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