Justice Department launches investigation into Memphis police after Tyre Nichols death
The Justice Department will launch an investigation into the Memphis Police Department in response to Tyre Nichols' death.
The investigation will focus on the police department's use-of-force and de-escalation policies, and will take a broader look at specialised police units — like Memphis's now-defunct SCORPION unit — across the US.
Nichols died days after police officers beat him and failed to quickly provide him medical treatment following a traffic stop.
"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.
She said the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services would release a report following the Justice Department investigation, and that the report should serve as a guide for law enforcement and elected officials.
"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," she said.
In Memphis, the SCORPION unit was intended to specifically target street crime. However, a New York Times report found that the group of approximately 40 officers was feared in the community and known for handing out brutal beatings, often aimed at Black men.
The review was requested by the mayor of Memphis and the city's police chief, according to CNN.
In addition to the review, law enforcement is expected to release more video captured the night Nichols was beaten by five now-former Memphis Police Department officers. The city has concluded its internal investigation into the footage and will release it on Wednesday.
The officers were fired in the wake of Nichols' death and have since been arrested on numerous charges, including second-degree murder.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills Jr. each are charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
Two other Memphis police officers have been fired since the initial five were charged.
Shelby County prosecutor Steven Mulroy told CNN he did not believe that there would be further arrests resulting from the internal investigation. He previously told the network that his office would wait until the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation wrapped its investigation before bringing any further charges.