As the police bodycam footage of Tyre Nichols’ brutal beating at the hands of Memphis police officers dominates the national headlines, disturbing information about the woman in charge of the five officers responsible, police chief Cerelyn Davis, is coming to light that calls into question, at the very least, her professional and ethical judgment.
In 2021, Davis was named Memphis’s first female police chief, but prior to that, she worked for the Atlanta police department, where she began her career as a patrol officer in 1986, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports. Her advancement in the department came quickly, and she was ultimately named deputy chief.
“As a commander, she led Atlanta’s Special Operations Section, which included SWAT, mounted patrol, motors, APD’s helicopter unit, vice and narcotics. She also led the city’s infamous REDDOG unit, according to her biography on the Memphis police site,” according to AJC, which adds, “She also served as the Atlanta Police Department’s internal affairs commander.”
It was while she was serving in that capacity that the department obtained photos of Atlanta Police Sergeant Tonya Crane’s husband, Terrill Marion “T.C.” Crane, sexually engaged with underage girls.
Memphis residents speak out: ‘A lot of times, it was the black officers who beat us worse than white officers’ https://t.co/94XlYzSHYl pic.twitter.com/wTvvPfOqCA
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) January 29, 2023
Two detectives came forward and accused Davis of telling them not to investigate T.C. Crane, who later pleaded guilty to one count of producing child pornography after being indicted by a federal grand jury.
“Then-Chief Richard Pennington first demoted Davis from major to lieutenant before firing her,” AJC reported. “She challenged her firing before the city’s Civil Service Board and was ultimately reinstated.”
A second police employee was also fired and Tonya Crane resigned before the department could act against her.
Once in Memphis, Davis formed the elite SCORPION (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) unit, of which the five officers now charged with the murder of Nichols were a part.
“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, at a time when the city was tallying record homicide numbers,” according to The New York Times.
As late as Friday, Davis was still defending her unit.
“The whole idea that the SCORPION unit is a bad unit,” she said, “I just have a problem with that.”
Apparently, she had a bigger problem with the heat she received following the release of the bodycam footage.
On Saturday, the Memphis Police Department announced that the SCORPION unit was shut down, after the unit’s members met with Davis “to discuss the path forward.”
“In the process of listening intently to the family of Tyre Nichols, community leaders and the uninvolved officers who have done quality work in their assignments, it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION unit,” the department said in a statement released on Twitter.
— Memphis Police Dept (@MEM_PoliceDept) January 28, 2023
“The current officers currently assigned to the unit agree unreservedly with this next step,” Memphis PD continued. “While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonor on the title, SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department, take proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted.”
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