As communities around the world mourn the death of Tyre Nichols following an assault by Memphis police officers, much is in question concerning the SCORPION unit and its demonstrated brutality. By now, you have likely seen the footage of the traffic stop, which resulted in Nichols being taken to the hospital in critical condition after the SCORPION unit claimed to have stopped him for “reckless driving” on Jan. 7.

Consequently, according to his autopsy, Nichols died three days after being severely beaten, which caused extensive injuries and bleeding. The Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods unit, better known as the SCORPION unit, has since been disbanded. The initial collective of cops associated with Nichols’ killing, who were taken off duty and face charges of second-degree murder and more, include Justin Smith, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Demetrius Haley. All those cited are Black men. A sixth former SCORPION unit officer, Preston Hemphill, who is white, has since been placed on administrative leave as of Monday (Jan. 30).

The seventh member of the SCORPION unit who was relieved of duty following MPD’s internal investigation has yet to be identified publicly. Additionally, two emergency medical technicians and the fire department lieutenant involved in Nichols’ traffic stop have also been terminated. In the aftermath of tragedy, nationwide protests, and a statement from President Biden, many people want to know how the SCORPION unit came to be. As per The New York Times, “[The police unit was] designed as a 40-officer group that would deploy in neighborhoods with a focus on crime hot spots. The officers have often operated in unmarked vehicles, making traffic stops, seizing weapons, and conducting hundreds of arrests. The unit was such a key part of the city’s crime-fighting strategy that Mayor Jim Strickland touted it in his State of the City address a year ago.” The attorney-turned-mayor has since altered his praises.

In a recent interview concerning the SCORPION unit with a local newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, Strickland said, “My first emotion was sadness — sadness for Tyre — watching him go through what he was going through. And then some disbelief. It’s just beyond anything I’ve ever seen.” Beside the politician’s sentiment is the growing speculation that these heavy-handed tactics are not the first of their kind since Chief Cerelyn Davis of the Memphis Police Department (MPD) assembled the SCORPION unit in October of 2021. Since Nichols’ passing, more complaints from residents against Memphis’ SCORPION unit have gone public.

And though the city, similar to other metropolitan areas, has a history of violence, there exists an argument that how law enforcement addresses crime directly correlates with how Memphians respond. For example, a recent FOX broadcast confirmed that between 2021 and 2022, there were 302 homicides throughout the city. Beforehand, the Memphis Police Department’s Assistant Chief Sean Jones told reporters during the SCORPION unit’s launch that, “Officers would focus on auto thefts, gang-related crimes, and drug-related crimes,” reported ABC News.

“It’s important to us that each member of the community feels they can go to the grocery store or live in their house without their house being shot,” Jones told the platform. The places the SCORPION unit would frequent across Memphis were often contingent upon calls received via 911. Bearing these points in mind, the City of Memphis‘ governmental webpage notes that the city’s crime statistics, which the SCORPION unit referenced, are categorized as follows, “Crimes are made up of seven offenses – homicide, burglary, robbery, rape, vehicle theft, aggravated assault, and larceny.”

In conjunction with these mentions, the Media One Radio Group’s national news section published that Strickland also declared, “The unit was responsible for 566 arrests, 390 of them felony arrests, seized $103,000 in cash, 270 vehicles and 253 weapons between October 2021 and Jan. 23, 2022.” Even so, those figures potentially invite the inquiry, “At what cost?” Nichols had Crohn’s disease and suffered from bouts of weight loss. One might ask, “Did a man his size require a barrage of cops to facilitate the arrest?”

In correlation with separate emerging perspectives and now-public SCORPION unit bodycam footage, TIME printed: “The video documents a brutal beating during which two officers hold Nichols down and another kicks him, possibly in the head. One officer can be heard saying, ‘I’m gonna baton the f— out of you’ before hitting Nichols repeatedly with a baton. Two officers hold him upright while a third repeatedly hits him in his face and his body.”

Subsequently, the attack’s footage displays laughter and banter about how cops hit Nichols with “straight haymakers” once the 29-year-old was handcuffed and propped against a police car. Upon their unit’s introduction, the MPD’s Facebook page posted, “The men and women of the Memphis Police Department‘s newly formed SCORPION unit are preparing to hit the streets… The unit is comprised of four teams of officers whose primary focus will be violent crime reduction and the saturation of hot spot areas.” The area in which Nichols was pursued was otherwise inactive.

Further, Tennessee’s WJHL-TV News Channel 11 team registered, “The five police officers who were fired after Tyre Nichols’ death hadn’t been with MPD long, and police haven’t told us what units they worked with during their time on the force.” This finding does not negate prior offenses within the community. The station connected with a Memphis local, Cornell McKinney, and verified that the SCORPION unit stopped him and a friend on Jan. 3, four days ahead of Nichols’ assault.

During the interview, McKinney explained, “All I heard is a ‘Freeze, get out the car. Put your [motherfucking] hands up before I blow your heads off.’ So, I put my hands up, and one of the officers proceeded to come to the car, and he physically pulled me out by my shoulder with a gun no more than a foot away from my head.” The SCORPION unit cops were said to be in unmarked cars and did not explain why they approached McKinney and his friend.

Moreover, upon McKinney’s request to contact his lawyer, he said an officer told him, “This ain’t court. This ain’t the time for lawyers.” Following the occurrence, his calls to the MPD were said to yield no results. McKinney’s recollection is one example of an encounter with the SCORPION unit, among numerous others.

Further, past actions of associate law enforcement are speculated to allude to recent publicized events. NBC documented that in 2016, Haley, a then-corrections officer, “was accused… of participating in a prison assault that left an inmate unconscious, according to a federal civil rights complaint” that was filed at the U.S. District Court in Tennessee. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revisited Davis’ prior stints and correlated her experiences in Georgia, writing, “The chief of Memphis’ police department had a lengthy career in Atlanta that nearly ended with her 2008 firing in connection with a botched investigation involving the husband of a police sergeant. Now, Cerelyn ‘CJ’ Davis finds herself in the spotlight again…”

Beyond the charges of second-degree murder for the first five men involved in Nichols’ death, Davis’ former SCORPION unit officers also face official oppression, official misconduct, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated assault charges. The FBI and Department of Justice have opened civil rights investigations. U.S. Attorney Kevin Ritz’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee issued a statement confirming, “We announced that the United States had opened a federal civil rights investigation into the circumstances leading to the tragic death of Tyre Nichols… My office is working hand in hand with the Civil Rights Division in Washington, as well as the FBI and other law enforcement partners. Our team includes very experienced federal prosecutors… FBI agents… [and] a very experienced attorney from the Civil Rights Division.”

During a press conference last week, Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing Nichols’ family, asserted, “We believe that this was a pattern and practice,” connecting the now-deactivated SCORPION unit’s history. The White House’s Briefing Room published the “Statement from President Joe Biden on Tyre Nichols,” substantiating, “I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death. It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day.”

Antonio Romanucci, another one of Nichols’ family’s lawyers, was quoted by The New York Times saying, “This SCORPION unit was designed to saturate under the guise of crime-fighting, and what it wound up doing instead was creating a continual pattern and practice of bad behavior.” Rev. Al Sharpton added thoughts last week during a National Action Network press conference questioning the SCORPION unit cops involved, “Do you think ’cause you were Black, we wouldn’t say nothing? … Your Blackness ain’t gonna stop us from fighting you. These five cops not only disgrace their badges — they disgrace our race.” The REVOLT team extends its condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols.