The Memphis Police Department on Saturday announced it had “suspended” its arrest The price of SCORPIONone day after the release of amazing video which featured the violent arrest of Tyro Nichols earlier this month. Five former officers involved in the arrest of Nichols, who are charged with manslaughter in his death, were among the group.
The decision came after Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis met with members of the unit Saturday “to discuss how the department and the community are dealing with the tragic death of Tyro Nichols,” police said in a statement.
Officials realized it was “in everyone’s best interest to cancel the operation of the SCORPION Unit,” he said.
SCORPION officials agreed “unreservedly” with the decision, the department added.
The SCORPION team has been inactive since Jan. 7 arrest of Nichols, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a news release Friday.
SCORPION, or Street Violence Operation to Restore Peace in Our Community, involved more than a dozen police officers tasked with crime. He wore black clothes and black clothes with “POLICE” emblazoned on the front and back, and drove a black Dodge Charger with a SCORPION logo on it.
They patrolled in groups and sometimes used small parking lots as a way to find violent criminals, drugs or weapons, according to the department.
“While the ugliness of a few people brings shame to the head of the SCORPION, it is important that we, the Memphis Police Department, take action to heal all those affected,” he said Saturday.
29-year-old Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after he was brutally arrested during a traffic stop by Memphis police. Bodycam video and surveillance footage released Friday showed Nichols being pepper-sprayed, punched in the head and restrained, punched and repeatedly hit with a baton.
The five officers who were fired were identified as Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. They were employed from 2017 to 2020, and were aged 24 to 32. All five directors have been accused of murder and other crimes.
In his statement Friday, Strickland also wrote that the city had “launched an independent review of the training, policy and performance of our special teams.”
— Pat Milton and Chrissy Hallowell contributed to this story.