Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn "C.J." Davis said more officers are under investigation after the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols as she conducts a "complete and independent review" of all the department's specialized units.
Davis, speaking in a YouTube video released late Wednesday night, did not say how many other officers are facing scrutiny, nor did she reveal the nature of the policy violations.
The announcement about a broader, internal investigation and review of specialized units were the first public remarks about Nichols and the state and federal investigations since a traffic stop turned violent on Jan. 7. Nichols died three days later at a local hospital.
"As you know, five Memphis Police officers were terminated last week," Davis said in the four-minute video. "These officers were found to be directly responsible for the physical abuse of Mr. Nichols. Concurrent with that investigation, other MPD officers are still under investigation for department policy violations. Some infractions are less egregious than others."
Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith were all fired the evening of Jan. 20. Some of the officers involved have been identified as belonging to an MPD unit called SCORPION, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.
The unit launched in November 2021 and focuses on preventing auto theft and gang-related violence and was structured to have some coordination with the Multi-Agency Gang Unit.
"Words are only temporary salves that need to be followed by true, responsible action and change," Davis said Wednesday.
Davis said the review of the specialized units is aimed at ensuring the policies and procedures of the department are followed daily by all officers.
Nichols was pulled over in a traffic stop Jan. 7 and the stop ended with him saying he had "a shortness of breath," a police statement said. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital and died Jan. 10.
In the days since his death, his family has retained civil rights attorney Ben Crump, along with co-counsel Antonio Romanucci. The family and lawyers saw the video Monday afternoon, and in a press conference, Romanucci called the incident an "unadulterated...beating of [Nichols] for three minutes."
Davis, in her video statement, also called the incident "heinous, reckless and inhumane."
Calls for increased transparency from Memphis Police have been plentiful in the weeks following Nichols' death, including calls for the footage of the beating to be released and the officers responsible to be charged.
Following public comments from activists at a Memphis City Council meeting Tuesday evening, Councilman JB Smiley announced his plans to introduce an ordinance that would require Memphis Police officers to report consistent and detailed reports on traffic stops, along with use-of-force complaints.
The ordinance is set to be introduced in the council's Feb. 7 meeting and would also make the Inspectional Service Bureau database, where use-of-force complaints are tracked, more comprehensive.
"I'm on the side of taking action...we have to hold their feet to the fire," Smiley said Tuesday.
In addition to MPD's internal investigations, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the use of force by officers and will deliver its findings to Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy who will then decide whether or not to criminally charge the officers.
The FBI is also conducting an investigation into potential civil rights violations.
Lucas Finton is a news reporter with The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at Lucas.Finton@commercialappeal.com and followed on Twitter @LucasFinton.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Other officers violated MPD policy, being investigated, Davis says
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