The police department announced the dissolution of the specialized police unit on Saturday as more demonstrations were planned in American cities a day after graphic footage of Tyre Nichols’ fatal beating was made public. The unit included at least some of the Memphis officers responsible for the fatal beating.
After speaking with Nichols’ family members, local authorities, and other officers, the police chief said in a statement that the department was permanently dismantling the SCORPION squad.
Nichols, a 29-year-old Black male, was repeatedly heard crying “Mom!” while police kicked, beat, and baton-charged him in his mother’s neighborhood following a traffic stop on January 7. Video footage from police body-worn cameras and a camera put on a utility pole was captured. After being taken to the hospital, he passed away from his wounds three days later.
The revelation of the videos on Friday provoked rallies across the country, including in Memphis, and encouraged many towns to be ready for more demonstrations on Saturday.
President Joe Biden and the Nichols family have expressed their shock and sorrow while pleading with demonstrators to maintain peace. Violence has not yet been present during protests.
On Thursday, five Black officers who took part in the beating were charged with murder, assault, kidnapping, and other offenses. They were all fired from the department.
On Saturday, demonstrators in Memphis chanted, “Streets whose? our roads! “angry catcalls were directed at a police cruiser that was keeping watch on the march, and several protesters made lewd gestures. Upon hearing that SCORPION had been dissolved, some people rejoiced enthusiastically.
In order to focus on crime hotspots, the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in our Neighborhoods was established in October 2021. Such specialist teams are subject to abusive practices, according to critics.
Together, the four video footage showed officers beating Nichols despite the fact that he didn’t seem to be a threat. Although the police chief has stated that the reason for the stop has not been established, the initial traffic stop was made for reckless driving.
Nichols was a kind, gifted skateboarder who was born in Sacramento, California, and relocated to Memphis before the coronavirus outbreak, according to friends and relatives. Nichols, a FedEx employee, and father of a 4-year-old boy had just started taking a photography class.
The group of pals that gathered at the neighborhood Starbucks included Nichols and Nate Spates Jr., both 42 years old.
When Nichols wasn’t working a late shift, Spates said, he would go to a park called Shelby Farms to watch the sunset. “He liked what he liked, and he marched to the beat of his own drum,” Spates said.
The recent high-profile instance of police employing excessive force against Black people and other minorities is Nichols’ killing. Global demonstrations against racial injustice were sparked by the 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Black man who passed away after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.