Removal of Atlanta Police Unit: The city of Memphis and various officials are making a legal move to eliminate any mention of an elite Atlanta police unit from a civil lawsuit filed by Tyre Nichols’ family. Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, tragically lost his life after a violent encounter with Memphis police in January. In recent court documents filed at the US District Court in the Western District of Tennessee, the city and officials are urging the court to strike specific statements related to the RED DOG Unit, as they believe these statements are irrelevant, scandalous, and prejudicial to the defendants.
Allegations Surrounding the Atlanta RED DOG Unit
According to the lawsuit filed by the Nichols family, the involvement of Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis and Assistant Police Chief Shawn Davis with the Atlanta Police Department’s RED DOG Unit should have raised concerns for the City of Memphis before hiring them. The RED DOG Unit, known as an acronym for “Run Every Drug Dealer Out of Georgia,” was a controversial unit that gained political popularity but faced numerous complaints over the years. Ultimately, it was shut down in 2011 following a federal lawsuit filed by patrons of a gay bar after an aggressive raid.
Motion to Strike References to the RED DOG Unit
In their motion to strike mentions of the RED DOG Unit from the lawsuit, the city and officials argue that the plaintiff’s claims against the City are based on allegations related to the practices and constitutional violations of the Atlanta-based unit. However, they contend that these allegations do not establish the City of Memphis as the instigator or direct cause of Mr. Nichols’ alleged constitutional deprivation.
Irrelevance of the RED DOG Unit’s Past Wrongs
The motion further emphasizes that the alleged past wrongdoings of the RED DOG Unit are irrelevant to the City’s potential liability in this case and only serve to prejudice the City. The city and officials aim to distance themselves from the Atlanta police unit’s history and focus solely on the specific circumstances surrounding Mr. Nichols’ tragic death.
Involvement of the SCORPION Unit in Nichols’ Beating
It is worth noting that five members of a similar “elite” police unit in Memphis, known as the SCORPION unit, were charged with murder in connection with Nichols’ brutal beating. Following a traffic stop and a brief foot chase on January 7, the officers repeatedly punched and kicked Nichols, leading to his hospitalization and eventual death three days later. The Memphis Police Department disbanded the SCORPION unit in January, shortly after the release of a video capturing the incident.
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Lawsuit Filed by Nichols’ Family
In April, Nichols’ family filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Memphis, its police department, and the officers involved in the beating. The lawsuit, seeking $550 million in damages, claims that the fatal beating was a direct result of the city’s unconstitutional policies, practices, customs, and deliberate indifference towards the actions of its police officials.
Conclusion of Removal of Atlanta Police Unit
While Memphis took steps to disband its SCORPION unit following the incident, other cities continue to rely on similar specialized police squads despite their own controversies. The outcome of the legal proceedings will shed light on the city’s responsibility in the tragic death of Tyre Nichols and determine the course of justice for his grieving family.