Memphis disbands police unit involved in fatal beating of Tire Nichols

Rate this post

The specialized police unit that included at least some of the Memphis officers involved in the fatal beating of Tire Nichols was disbanded on Saturday, the police department announced, as more protests were planned in US cities a day later. harrowing video of the attack was released.

In a statement, the department said it would permanently deactivate the SCORPION unit after the police chief spoke with Nichols’ family members, community leaders and other officers.

Video recordings from police body cameras and a camera mounted on a utility pole showed Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, repeatedly yelling “Mom!” as officers kicked, punched, and batoned him in his mother’s neighborhood after a traffic stop on January 7. He was hospitalized and died from his injuries three days later.

The release of the clips on Friday sparked protests in Memphis and elsewhere and caused numerous cities to prepare for additional demonstrations on Saturday.

Nichols’ family and officials, including President Joe Biden, expressed outrage and regret, but urged the protesters to remain peaceful. The demonstrations have so far been free of violence.

Five officers involved in the beating, all black, were charged Thursday with murder, assault, kidnapping and other charges. All have been fired from the department.

In Memphis on Saturday, protesters chanted: “Whose streets? Our streets!” he angrily whistled at a police car that was monitoring the march, with several making obscene gestures. Some cheered loudly when they heard about SCORPION’s disbandment.

The unit, Operation Street Crime to Restore Peace to our Neighborhoods, was formed in October 2021 to focus on crime hotspots. Critics say these specialized teams can be prone to abusive tactics.

Taken together, the four videos showed police beating Nichols even though he did not appear to pose a threat. The initial traffic stop was for reckless driving, although the police chief has said the cause of the stop has not been proven.

Friends and family say Nichols was an affable and talented skateboarder who grew up in Sacramento, California, and moved to Memphis before the coronavirus pandemic. Nichols, the father of a 4-year-old boy, worked at FedEx and had recently enrolled in a photography class.

Nate Spates Jr., 42, was part of a circle of friends, including Nichols, who met at a local Starbucks.

“He liked what he liked, and he marched to the beat of his own drum,” Spates said, recalling Nichols going to a park called Shelby Farms to watch the sunset when he wasn’t working the night shift.

Nichols’ death is the latest high-profile example of police using excessive force against blacks and other minorities. The 2020 murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes, spurred protests around the world over racial injustice.

Leave a Comment