Five former Memphis police officers charged with the murder of Tyre Nichols beat another Black man just days before Nichols' death, a lawsuit alleges.
According to ABC 24, 22-year-old Monterrious Harris says he was beaten by the same officers of the now-disbanded SCORPION unit on January 4, just a few miles from where they pulled Nichols over on January 7.
Harris was waiting for his cousin outside of an apartment in Hickory Hill "when masked guys, with masks and hoodies on, they came out of nowhere asking me to get out the car," he said. The 22-year-old alleges that the masked men didn't identify themselves, so he believed he was being robbed.
Harris said he backed his vehicle up and hit an object behind him before noticing what appeared to be an officer's vest with gun magazines clipped to it. That’s when Harris said he exited his vehicle.
“I like put my hands up and walked towards him. I’m like what’s going on? He grabbed me, hit me a couple times. Other guys closed in on me,” Harris said.
Harris claims one of the officers pounded his head into the concrete. Police didn't stop beating him until his cousin and neighbors came outside, he said.
“After they already had me detained and stuff, they kept saying how they wanted to air my car out," Harris told ABC 24. "One officer was laughing at the other officer like, ‘Oh you’ve got your red beam on.’ He was like yes, I was ready to shoot him.'”
Tadarrious Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr, members of the Memphis Police Department's SCORPION unit, which was disbanded in the fallout of Nichols' January 10 death, were all fired due to their involvement in his fatal beating during a traffic stop and are listed on the arrest affidavit for Harris' incident.
According to the affidavit, Harris drove toward police in his car and then backed up at a high speed. He attempted to flee on foot before being caught by police, the affidavit states.
The 22-year-old "violated a number of laws including evading arrest, possession of a controlled substance, and convicted felon with possession of a handgun," according to the affidavit obtained by ABC 24. Harris' federal lawsuit, however, says the gun didn't belong to him.
Harris' mother called Spence Partners Law days before learning that the officers facing murder charges in Nichols' death were the same names listed on the police report for her son.
“We filed a lawsuit because we believe we can prove that there’s a policy and custom in MPD in which they violate the rights of young Black men like Monterrious,” said Jarrett Spence of Spence Partners Law.
Harris’ lawyers said they are pleased with the SCORPION Unit being disbanded, but there is more work to be done.
Memphis police said they cannot comment on the incident at this time due to an ongoing investigation.
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