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MPD breaks up its SCORPION Unit

A day after standing firm on continuing the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION unit, MPD Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis reversed course.

“In the process of listening intently to the family of Tyre Nichols, community leaders, and the uninvolved officers who have done quality work in their assignments, it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION Unit,” an MPD statement released Saturday disclosed.

SCORPION is an acronym for Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. The five former officers indicted by a grand jury and charged in the death of Tyre D. Nichols were assigned to the unit.

Calls for Davis to disband the SCORPION Unit have been sounded since Nichols’ brutish beating by the quintet of officers on Jan. 7. The crescendo peaked Friday night after the City of Memphis and MPD released video footage viewed live throughout the nation.

Nichols died three days after the beating that was so jarringly captured on a SkyCop camera.

In a telephone interview Friday with The New Tri-State Defender, Davis said the SCORPION Unit was “a great concept” that she formed because she was “troubled by the fact that in certain communities, people could not sleep at night because there was so much shooting, all times of the day and night.”

On the record with Chief Davis

She touted huge results, detailing that the SCORPION Unit teams “have taken more than 800 guns off the street – illegal guns. And, they have arrested more than 2,000 violent felons who have been wreaking havoc in our communities.”

While she acknowledged and said she understood the sentiment to do away with the unit, Davis said it would be “like throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

Now it’s gone

SCORPION Unit officers met with Davis on Saturday “to discuss the path forward for the department and the community.”

The released statement detailed the results.

“The officers currently assigned to the unit agree unreservedly with this next step (to disband). While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonor on the title SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department take proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted.”

At a press conference Friday morning, attorney Antonio Romanucci, who represents Nichols’ family with attorney Benjamin Crump and local assistance by attorney Van Turner Jr., articulated the conclusion many had reached about the future of the special unit.

At a press conference on the morning of the public release of video footage showing SCORPION Unit officers ganging up to beat Tyre D. Nichols, attorneys Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci call for it to be disbanded. Romanucci detailed why. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku/The New Tri-State Defender)


On Wednesday (Feb. 1) at 10:30 a.m., the Rev. Al Sharpton, the president and founder of the National Action Network, will deliver the eulogy for Nichols at  Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, 70 N Bellevue Boulevard.

Crump will bring a call to action.

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