Fulton County Sheriff possibly changing name of SCORPION unit after Tyre Nichols' death

The Fulton County Sheriff's Office says that they are considering a name change to one of its crime units as a response to the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee.

In a statement Tuesday, Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said his agency is one of many considering a name change for its SCORPION unit.

The name, which stands for "Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace In Our Neighborhoods" shares a name with the same unit whose officers were seen on video surveillance and body cam footage beating Tyre Nichols to death after stopping the Black motorist. These units usually focus on targeting violent criminals in high-crime areas.


A composite photo of the Fulton County Sheriff Office SCORION Unit and their logo (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

The brutal video has led to five officers arrested and charged, multiple officers being relieved of duty, and the firing of three EMTs.

As a response, the Memphis police chief also disbanded the unit, citing a "cloud of dishonor."

In his statement, Labat called the actions of the Memphis officers "heinous" and said that they "have cast dishonor and suspicion on the title SCORPION."

The sheriff said that all agencies that have a SCORPION unit should evaluate and see how they can build strong bonds of trust in the community.

"We believe a name change is important but realize it is not in itself, a solution," Labat said. "Our executive leadership team is reviewing operations and training protocols. Any additional changes warranted will be implemented with the goal of strengthening our commitment to our mission and serving the citizens of Fulton County with integrity, transparency and honor."

It is not known what changes the department will make or when the name change may go into effect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.