Police disband Scorpion special unit afta officers beat man wey later die

Contains graphic violent scenes. – Police kick and punch Tyre Nichols during violent arrest for Memphis
The British Broadcasting Corporation

Di  Memphis Police Department don disband di so-called Scorpion special unit wey five of dia officers chop accuse say dem murder Tyre Nichols.

Scorpion stand for “Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods”.

Di unit na 50-pesin unit wey get di mission to bring down crime levels for particular areas.

Dem abolish am afta dia videos show dia officers dey beat one 29-year-old man, Tyre Nichols on 7 January.

Di department tok for statement say “e dey in di best interest of all to permanently deactivate” di unit.

“While di heinous action of few pipo cast cloud of dishonour of on di title Scorpion, e dey important say we di Memphis Police Department take proactive steps in di healing process for all wey dey impacted,” di statement add.

Oga Nichols family welcome di decision for one statement from dia lawyers wey say e dey “appropriate and proportional to di tragic death of Tyre Nichols, and also decent and just decision for all citizens of Memphis”.

Dem launch di unit for October 2021 wit focus on high-impact crimes, such as car thefts and gang-related offences.

Di five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith – chop sack last week.

Dem take dem into custody on Thursday and each of dem dey face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

Dem release four of di men on bail on Friday, according to jail records.

Lawyers for Oga Martin and Oga Mills say dia clients go plead not guilty.

“Di unit wey murder Tyre don dey permanently disbanded,” one protester shout inside megaphone for Memphis and di crowd begin to dey cheer.

Despite di rain, di group wey no reach 100 protesters bin gada for di square wey dey front of di Memphis Police headquarters to demand change to police system wey dem tok say e dey brutalise black pipo for Memphis and across di kontri.

“Memphis dey take a stand,” Casio Montez tok. Montez na one of di protest organisers. “Dis mean say we dey do sometin right.”

Oga Montez vow say im and oda community organisers go continue to pressure Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis and city officials until “dem meet di demands of di community”, including reforming di department organised crime unit.

Protest sake of Tyre Nichols death

Protest organiser Casio Montez, in blue, lead march for Memphis

For one interview wit BBC News on Friday, Chief Davis tok say dem create di Scorpion unit to dey “more responsive” and “more proactive” to gun violence for di city. But she acknowledge say di officers wey brutally beat Tyre Nichols “decide to go off di rails”.

“We dey do individual evaluation of all units,” she tok. “Dis na necessary step. We wan dey fully transparent to di community.”

But for some pipo, di problem of police violence dey more deeply rooted dan wetin any reform fit address.

At di rally for Saturday, Memphis native Allie Watkins hold one sign wey proclaim, “All cops uphold white supremacy.”

Di sign dey historically accurate, she tok, sake of say di history of policing for America begin wit slave patrols.  

“Dis no be issue of corruption for di United States, dis na issue of di fact say di system dey built against black bodies,” she tok.

She tok say if di system dey broken, di only way to fix am na to start again.

How di mata take start

Police bin tok say dem stop Oga Nichols sake of suspicion of reckless driving, wey no get evidence. Im die for hospital three days later, on 10 January.

Oga Nichols na black just like five officers wey dem charge for di case.

On Friday, Memphis Police Department release four graphic videos of di traffic stop and di violence wey happun afta. All di videos na more dan one hour.

Peaceful protest take place for Memphis on Friday night afta dem release di video. Some protesters block one major highway for di city, while small-scale demonstrations bin hold elsewhere for di kontri.

Many protesters hold banners as dem demand justice for Oga Nichols and end to “police terror”.

Lawyers for Oga Nichols family say di assault be like di 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland for one speech speech a year ago tok say di city use crime data “to determine where di unit go conduct dia enforcement activities within di city”.

From October 2021 until January 2022, di unit make 566 arrests, e tok. Dem also seize more dan $100,000 in cash, 270 vehicles and 253 weapons.

Afta Oga Nichols die, one local man, Cornell McKinney, tell one Memphis-area TV network say im get tense encounter wit di unit on 3 January, just days before di incident involving Oga Nichols.

Oga McKinney allege say di officers wey bin dey travel in unmarked vehicles threaten to “blow im head off”, as dem point weapon for im head and accuse am say im carry drugs.

Im complain to di Memphis Police Department afta di incident, but e say im neva hear back from dem.

One man accuse one of di officers wey arrest Oga Nichols say im beat am wen im be prisoner eight years ago.