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DOJ Launches Probe Into Memphis Police, Specialized Police Units Nationwide, After Tyre Nichols’ Death

Memphis, TN – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed on Monday that it has launched an investigation into the Memphis Police Department’s (MPD) use-of-force and de-escalation policies following the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.

Nichols died three days after he was beaten by Memphis police officers after he resisted arrest and fled a traffic stop.

The incident was captured on bodycam and pole camera video and showed officers brutally beating the suspect after they caught up with him.

Seven officers have been terminated by the police department, and five of them are facing second-degree murder charges in connection with Nichols’ death, the Associated Press reported.

Thirteen members of the police force have been administratively charged in the case.

DOJ announced on March 7 that it has opened a civil rights investigation into Nichols’ death, as well as launched a review of the police department’s use-of-force and de-escalation policies, along with a separate review of specialized police units, ABC News reported.

All of the Memphis police officers charged with Nichols’ murder were members of the SCORPION Unit, an anti-crime task force that was disbanded after the incident, the Associated Press reported.

DOJ said it intended to expand its review of specialized units to cities across the United States, ABC News reported.

“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 in a statement.

DOJ said its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) will conduct a review of “policies, practices, training, data, and processes related to MPD’s use-of-force, de-escalation, and specialized units” and then release a public report with its findings, ABC News reported.

The COPS review of Memphis police is being conducted at the request of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis, according to DOJ.

The COPS office said it will also create a guide about the proper use and management of specialized unit for police chiefs around the country, ABC News reported.

“The COPS Office guide on specialized units will be a critical resource for law enforcement, mayors and community members committed to effective community policing that respects the dignity of community members and keeps people safe,” Gupta said.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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