The Memphis police’s “elite” SCORPION task force was involved in the beating which resulted in the death of FedEx worker Tyre Nichols — and his family are now demanding the squad be disbanded.

At least two of the five officers who have now been charged with murder over Nichol’s savage pepper spraying and clubbing on Jan. 7 were members of the unit, whose acronym stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.

“This SCORPION unit was…creating a continual pattern and practice of bad behavior,” charged Nichols family attorney Antonio Romanucci at a press conference Friday.

The secretive 50 person unit was created in 2021 as a response to a skyrocketing murder rate in the city. They were deployed in high-crime neighborhoods, often using unmarked vehicles and targeted homicides, assaults and major felonies.

Mayor Jim Strickland championed the unit in a 2022 city address, pointing out how they had made over 550 arrests and were having a significant impact on violent crimes.

However, Nichols — a gentle 29-year-old father, who weighed 150lbs despite being over 6′ tall due to a battle with Chron’s disease and had no known criminal record — did not appear to fit the profile of the average person the SCORPION unit targeted. He was also initially pulled over on suspicion of reckless driving before altercation which ended his life.

Tyre Nichols hooked up the ventilator, looking bruised and swollen in a hospital bed.
Tyre Nichols in the hospital before his death.
Family of Tyre Nichols

During Friday’s press conference, Romanucci said SCORPION had a higher rate of violence than other departments within Memphis PD, claims which could not immediately be substantiated by The Post.

“We are asking Memphis Police to disband this SCORPION unit immediately. It has now been corrupted,” he said, noting that he believed Nichols was caught in a failed “sting” by SCORPION officers.

“The charges state they acted together as a pack of wolves, to inflict harm, terrorism, oppression of constitutional liberty and rights — which led to murder. 

Attorney Antonio Romanucci, who represents the family of Tyre Nichols, speaks at a press conference on Friday.
Attorney Antonio Romanucci, who represents the family of Tyre Nichols, said that the SCORPION task force created “a continual pattern and practice of bad behavior.”

“How will the community ever trust a SCORPION unit? The intent was good, the end result was a failure.”

Attorney Ben Crump, who also represents the family, cited two examples of alleged excessive force from SCORPION officers, including an unnamed man who said he’d been confronted by the unit and had a gun pointed at him while simply picking up pizza and another who claimed he had been beaten by them and had photos of his injuries, according to the New York Times.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said the unit had been created in response to a huge rise in crime in Memphis, telling CNN: “This is one of three teams whose primary responsibility is to reduce gun violence, to be visible in communities, and to also impact the rise in the crime … this unit was put together and they had great success, believe it or not, last year.

Rodney Wells (C) and RowVaughn Wells, the stepfather and mother of Tyre Nichols, alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
Rodney Wells (center) and RowVaughn Wells, the stepfather and mother of Tyre Nichols, alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
Getty Images

A photo of Tyre Nichols, a tall, lean Black man, smiling in a shirt and tie.
Tyre Nichols was beaten by police on Jan. 7 and died three days later.
Ben Crump Law

“It was the first year in a long time that we had reductions.”

In a statement issued by Strickland on Friday he said the unit was now “inactive” as various investigations take place.

As of Friday afternoon, all five former officers involved in the beating of Nichols, who died in hospital three days later, had posted bail and been released.

Remarks from Nichols’ loved ones and the attorney come shortly before the Memphis Police Department were set to release body cam footage of the fatal beating, which Chief Davis previously described as “heinous.”

Ben Crump with his arms around RowVaughn Wells.
Ben Crump comforts RowVaughn Wells during a press conference on Friday.
Getty Images

In anticipation of the footage’s release, Nichols’ parents implored the public to protest peacefully.

“Please, please protest, but protest safely,” his grieving mother RowVaughn Wells said.


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