The Memphis Police Department said it has permanently deactivated its Scorpion unit following the death of Tire Nichols.
“In the process of listening carefully to Tire Nichols’ family, community leaders and the uninvolved officers who did quality work on their behalf, it is in everyone’s best interest to permanently deactivate the SCORPION unit,” the department said in a statement. a statement Saturday.
According to the statement, “the officers currently assigned to the unit are in full agreement with this next step. While the horrific actions of a few cast a cloud of infamy on the SCORPION title, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department, take proactive steps in the healing process for all those affected.
The news came a day after authorities released video footage showing five former Memphis officers punching and kicking Nichols during a traffic stop on Jan. 7. The 29-year-old died three days later on January 10.
All five agents were members of Scorpion, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. The vaunted anti-violence unit was launched in November 2021 as the city’s homicide rate soared and the community called for action.
Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci, attorneys for Nichols’ family, said in a statement that taking out the unit was just one step on the road to justice.
“The Nichols family and their legal team believe the decision to permanently disband this unit is both appropriate and proportionate to the tragic death of Tire Nichols, as well as a fair and just decision for all Memphis residents,” they said in a joint statement. Saturday.
“We hope other cities take similar action with their saturation police units,” the duo said.
The Memphis unit consisted of four teams of officers whose primary focus, according to the department, was on reducing violent crime “and the saturation of hotspot areas in the city.” Mayor Jim Strickland promoted the unit as part of the solution in his January 2022 State of the City address, touting it as part of an anti-crime strategy that also included a gun violence intervention program and more money for police.
The mayor said the unit had made more than 566 arrests and seized more than $103,000 in cash and 253 weapons in the first three months.
The five agents – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Desmond Mills Jr. – were fired from the police and charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression, and one count of aggravated assault.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com