STORY: Protesters in Memphis, Tennessee, demanding an end to police violence against Black people, hailed what they saw as a small victory on Saturday.
News had just emerged that authorities were disbanding the specialized police unit linked to at least some of the officers involved in the fatal beating of Black motorist Tyre Nichols.
In a statement, the Memphis police said it had “permanently deactivated” the SCORPION unit, after the police chief spoke with members of Nichols' family, community leaders and other officers.
Video recordings released on Friday showed the January 7 attack.
The 29-year-old could be heard repeatedly calling for his mom, as the officers, who are also Black, are seen repeatedly assaulting him in his mother's neighborhood after a traffic stop.
Nichols died of his injuries three days later.
The five officers were charged on Thursday with murder and assault, among other crimes.
They’ve all been dismissed from the department.
The disbanding of the SCORPION unit, which focuses on street crime, came as protests continued across U.S. cities on Saturday, sparked by the harrowing video of the attack.
“As a mother with a 29-year-old, that hits hard for me. And I'm trying so hard not to cry. But it's hard because I have a 29-year-old and to hear a 29-year-old call for his mama.”
“It's not right. It's supposed to be a system that protects us, that provides safety for us. But instead it's killing us, murdering us, innocent lives who just began their adulthood.”
On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden, who has lived through two of his children’s deaths, made an effort to console Nichols’ parents over the phone.
“Mom, dad, if I can give you a piece of advice.”
“It's really rough. Don't be afraid to ask for help."
Tyre Nichols, the father of a 4-year-old, has become the latest face of a U.S. racial justice movement, galvanized by the 2020 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis officers.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who was with Nichols’ parents during the call, urged Biden to get a police reform bill named for Floyd passed through the next Congress.