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The Justice Department announced Wednesday they will be reviewing the Memphis Police Department following the death of Tyre Nichols.
In a release Wednesday morning, the Justice Department said they will be “undertaking two important reviews.”
The first will be of the Memphis Police Department, the department responsible for the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols earlier this year. Nichols’ death sparked outrage across the country as police bodycam footage showed five Memphis police officers brutally beating the FedEx driver to death.
The five Memphis police officers that brutally assaulted Nichols were all charged with second-degree murder and pleaded not guilty before a judge. Two other Memphis police officers were disciplined for their role, and three emergency responders were fired for their connection with the death of Tyre Nichols.
“You’re gonna see acts that defy humanity. You’re gonna see a disregard for life, duty of care that we’re all sworn to, and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement,” Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis told CNN ahead of the release of bodycam footage.
Justice Department reviews Memphis PD
The Justice Department said that Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis requested the review, which will cover policies, practices, training, data and processes related to MPD’s use of force, de-escalation, and specialized units.
The second part of the Justice Department’s review will focus on the use of specialized units within law enforcement.
The five officers charged with murder were part of Memphis Police Department’s “Scorpion Unit” which stands for “Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace In Our Neighborhoods.” The 50-person unit was launched in October of 2021, but it’s attracted controversy since its inception.
Former officer Demetrius Haley was driving in an unmarked car and wearing a Black hoodie when he pulled Nichols from his vehicle. An investigation revealed that Haley also stood over Nichols as he lay slumped against a police car and took photos of him with his cell phone as officers bragged about the severity of the beating. Haley shared those photos with other officers as well as a female acquaintance.
Memphis police said they would “permanently deactivate” the Scorpion Unit after Nichols’ death.
“In the wake of Tyre Nichols’s tragic death, the Justice Department has heard from police chiefs across the country who are assessing the use of specialized units and, where used, appropriate management, oversight and accountability for such units,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said.
At the conclusion of both reviews, the Justice Department will issue a public report outlining its findings and recommendations.