Death of Tyre Nichols: Memphis police unit involved in its violent arrest was dismantled

The five black police officers charged for murder after having passed tobacco an African American 29 years old belonged to the Scorpion unit of Memphis, which was born in November 2021 in order to lower the number of activities illegal in sensitive neighborhoods.

mo12345lemonde with AFP

This was one of the measures claimed after the death of Tyre Nichols: Memphis police dismantled on Saturday January 28, the Scorpion unit of which the five police officers accused of having caused the death of the 29-year-old African-American after a long passage to tobacco at the beginning of January.

The police of this big city in Tennessee, in the south of the United States, said in a statement that “it is in the interest of all to definitively dismantle the scorpion unit”.

“The police currently assigned to the unit have given their unreserved agreement,” added the press release.

This announcement comes the day after the public broadcast of videos showing the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, on January 7, during a road check. The man died three days after being hospitalized. The images of the police intervention have aroused horror and misunderstanding in the United States, without provoking the social explosion similar to that of the summer of 2020 feared by the authorities after the death of George Floyd killed by a white policeman.

A decision welcomed by the family of Tyre Nichols

The family of Tyre Nichols welcomed the decision of the Memphis police via a press release from her lawyers, judging her “both appropriate and proportional to the tragic death of Tyre Nichols”, but also “decent and just for all the citizens of Memphis “.

“We hope that other cities will take similar measures with their police units [difficult neighborhoods] in the near future in order to start generating greater confidence in their communities,” added the family.

Gatherings ranging from a few tens to a few hundred people held on Friday evening in several cities, including Memphis, New York and Washington. Saturday afternoon, several dozen demonstrators mobilized in the rain and in the cold in front of the town hall of Memphis, an imposing building of concrete blocks.

“Memphis has the opportunity to establish the model of response to such acts”, launched the elected official to the city council of the city JB Smiley at the crowd, demanding a police reform. To the sounds of “no justice, no peace” and with signs asking “justice for Tyre Nichols”, the demonstrators then paraded in the otherly calm streets of Memphis.

nearly 1,200 dead in 2022 during interactions with the American police

The police manager of Memphis Cerelyn Davis, who launched this unit in November 2021 in order to lower the number of illegal activities in sensitive neighborhoods by deploying a greater number of police officers, reported that Scorpion had won successes at its beginnings, in particular the decrease in crime in 2022 after a record number of 345 homicides the previous year, which had aroused “an uproar”, according to her.

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scorpion, which means street crimes operation to restore peace in our neighborhoods (Operation street crimes for the restoration of peace in our Neighborhoods), aimed to “reduce armed violence, be visible in communities and impact the increase in crime,” she said on CNN.

Two years after the death of the African-American George Floyd, the number of people who died in interactions with the police nevertheless reached a summit with 1,186 dead in 2022, at the highest over ten years, according to the The five police officers involved in the death of Tyre Nichols were dismissed, charged with murder and imprisoned. Four of them were then released on bail.

/Media reports cited above.