top of page

Welcome to Crime and Justice News

Memphis Prosecutors May Drop Cases From SCORPION Unit

All cases handled by the five Memphis police officers who are accused of beating and killing Tyre Nichols, will be reviewed by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, with the possibility of charges being dropped, reports USA Today. District Attorney Steve Mulroy did not specify how many cases were being reviewed but said the review includes both active and closed cases. Former officers Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith, Desmond Mills, and Emmitt Martin III are facing multiple criminal charges, including second-degree murder, for the beating death of Nichols, which has sparked national outrage and calls for police reform. The officers were all part of a specialized unit called SCORPION that made a significant number of arrests since 2021. Local defense attorneys said prosecutors will face tough decisions with cases involving any of the five officers, as their criminal charges bring conflict of interest and credibility concerns. Documents provided by the district attorney's office show that all five officers have been added to the county's list of law enforcement officers with credibility issues.

Memphis-based defense attorney Brandon Hall said he was in court on Wednesday when he saw a prosecutor drop one case involving some of the officers in question. Hall said one of the biggest concerns is a conflict of interest if the officers are allowed to testify as witnesses in other cases where they’ve made arrests, as they could be seen as trying to testify favorably for prosecutors in return for better outcomes in their own criminal cases. SCORPION, an acronym for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods, consisted of four, 10-officer teams to combat violent crime in Memphis. The unit often stopped people for minor offenses. Hall said he’s had at least 50 clients who have had run-ins with SCORPION unit officers. “They’ll stop people for improper tag illumination, seatbelt violations, reckless driving, window tint is a big one,” he said. “They’ll say they smell marijuana and as soon as they say that, they don’t need a search warrant. That gets them into the car immediately.” By the time cases get to court, Hall said prosecutors will typically drop all or most of the charges in minor drug cases involving SCORPION-related arrests.


Recent Posts

See All

A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

bottom of page