MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — All eyes are on the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION Unit after the death of Tyre Nichols. Now, more people who say they were also victims of overly aggressive officers assigned to that unit are coming forward.
Maurice Chalmers-Stokes prefers not to show his face out of fear of retaliation, but he is very forthcoming about what happened to him on the evening of October 1, 2022.
“I was not trying to be scared, but I was scared,” he said.
The 19-year-old said he was walking down Chelsea Avenue near University Street when unmarked cars started following him. Those inside had on ski masks.
“They hopped out and bum-rushed me. They was like, ‘Let me check your backpack. Don’t try to run,'” Chalmers-Stokes recalled.
But he ran out of fear.
“I end up taking off running. I bounced off a gate, hit my head on the gate,” he said.
He would soon learn those chasing him were police. An affidavit says the officers were assigned to MPD’s Scorpion Team One. On that team were four officers who have been in the spotlight over the killing of Tyre Nichols.
Those officers were detectives Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Tadarrius Bean, and Preston Hemphill. Haley, Mills, and Bean are the same officers who are now fired and charged in the Tyre Nichols case. Preston Hemphill is still under investigation.
“I didn’t know who they was. They was in unmarked cars like regular cars like this. So I’m not thinking ya know, police officers on top anyway. I am already scared for my life,” Chalmers-Stokes said.
Chalmers-Stokes said he had to speak out when he realized what happened, especially when he realized Demetrius Haley was one of the officers who caught him.
“When he grabbed me by my backpack, he pushed me to the gate again and it cut my head up,” he said. “Demetrius, when he threw me over, he acted like he was gonna punch me.”
Chalmers-Stokes said he was never told why police were chasing him and he complained about his head injury, but got no attention.
Attorney Andre Wharton said the glare of the Tyre Nichols story is shining light on more cases that deserve attention.
“The Constitution speaks of unreasonable searches and seizures. This is totally unreasonable. The same thing happened to Tyre Nichols that happened to Maurice just months before,” Wharton said.
He questions discrepancies that he says are in the police report the officers filled out.
“Maurice refusing medical attention, that did not happen,” Wharton said. “I don’t know why that was put in there.”
Now, they hope to talk to city officials about this case too.
“We don’t want this to happen to somebody else and so he sought counsel and we’re looking at exploring all means including the internal affairs investigation,” Wharton said.
Maurice Chalmers-Stokes was charged with theft of property after a stolen gun was found in his backpack following that stop. Wharton is not representing him on that criminal charge and says the stop itself was still unwarranted and without cause.