Memphis Police Disband Scorpion Unit, Suspend 6th Cop After Releasing Video of Tyre Nichols' Fatal Beating
"You hear them joking, yucking it up, and saying: 'Well, that was fun,'" says former police chief Kristen Ziman. "So that tells me that this is the culture. They're also wearing bodycams, which tells me that they have no accountability."
The Memphis Police Department announced on Monday it will be disbanding the Scorpion Unit.
That decision comes three days after MPD released a series of four gruesome videos depicting the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols.
Five members of the Scorpion Unit were charged with second-degree murder last week, and a sixth has now been relieved of his duties by the Memphis Police Department.
The department announced on Monday that Preston Hemphill has been relieved of duty pending investigation. Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith are charged with murder.
Hemphill did not travel to the second site after Nichols fled from officers and when asked why the MPD waited to announce the disciplinary actions taken against Hemphill. a spokesperson told Inside Edition: "The other 5 officers' names were announced when they were charged departmentally, then subsequently charged criminally. Officer Hemphill has not received departmental or criminal charges.
"As we have advised, the investigation is ongoing. Officer Hemphill’s name came out after it was heard in the video from the Tyre Nichols scene, that was released Friday evening. We are simply confirming that he is relieved of duty.”
All six officers belonged to the anti-crime Scorpion Unit, which had been set up to combat violent repeat offenders.
Nichols, a skateboarder on his way home from photographing the sunset, was not their usual target.
Kristen Ziman, a retired police chief from Aurora, Illinois, who was recently appointed by the Justice Department to serve on a nine-person panel of experts that will examine the Uvalde shooting, tells Inside Edition the officers' behavior is concerning right from the start.
"You hear them joking, yucking it up, and saying: 'Well, that was fun,'" says Ziman.
"So that tells me that this is the culture. They're also wearing bodycams, which tells me that they have no accountability and they're allowed to operate in that rogue fashion."
Things only get worse from there as New York Times reporter Anushka Patil points out, noting how Nichols was repeatedly asked to do things he was already doing or could not do.
"They really weren't interested in Mr. Nichols following any of those commands," says Patil.
"Those officers were creating an audio record to substantiate the use of force that was occurring."
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