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Tyre Nichols' Death Spurs Fresh Calls for National Police Reform

Tyre Nichols (Courtesy of the Nichols family via AP)
Tyre Nichols (Courtesy of the Nichols family via AP)

The Memphis police department has permanently shut down the "Scorpion unit," which stands for "Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods," after releasing video showing officers viciously attacking Tyre Nichols. 

Memphis authorities released more than an hour of footage Friday in which officers struck and kicked Nichols repeatedly as he screamed for his mother.

Five of the officers from the unit were fired and charged with second-degree murder in the death of the 29-year-old Nichols because of the beating during a January 7 traffic stop. 

Nichols died 3 days later in a hospital.

Protesters took to the streets in Memphis and across the country this weekend, demanding police reform. 

The attorney for the Nichols family claims the unit highlights the need to reform law enforcement. Their attorney, Ben Crump said, "It doesn't matter if the officers are Black, Hispanic, or White, it's part of the culture, the implicit biased police culture that exists in America."  

Democrats are calling for the revival of federal legislation that previously stalled in the Senate to reform policing standards nationwide. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, "We've got to change this for the better. By screening. By training. By accreditation. We've got to talk about keeping America safe, but doing it in a humane, sensible, rational fashion."

But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) says new legislation won't prevent incidents like what happened to Tyre Nichols. 

"We're not getting enough good people applying because of the disparagement on police officers," Jordan told NBC. "There's been this de-fund the police concept, there's been this attack on law enforcement."

Former congresswoman and former Police Chief Val Demings (D-FL) told CBS, "It really starts with hiring; making sure that we are bringing in the right men and women to do the job."

Attorneys for the five black police officers say they are innocent of the charges against them and at least some of the officers plan to plead not guilty. 

The Nichols family is preparing for a funeral on Wednesday.


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