On January 2, 2023, Stephen Bannon welcomed The Star News Network’s CEO and Editor and Chief, Michael Patrick Leahy to WARROOM: Battleground to discuss the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers and the Memphis Police Department’s “non-denial denial” when discussing the rumor that Tyre Nichols was targeted for personal reasons.
Bannon: Hey, Michael. You sent me an article, research. I know you guys have been working these couple of days. You talked to me about it last week or over the weekend, and it’s been up on Citizens Free Press and Gateway, it’s all over. Talk to us about this investigation that you’re doing.
You went to the Memphis Police Department giving some investigative work you’re doing at The Tennessee Star. Tell us about this, because it’s quite disturbing. But I got to tell you, something like that kind of makes sense because there’s something just strange about this situation.
Although it’s a story we normally don’t pursue, other people do it so much better. We have watched all the videos and watched all the tapes, and from the very beginning, there’s just something not right with this. It’s not simply the beating, which is horrific enough, and the ambulance and the professionals not helping, but it’s like the whole initiating incident. I’m a filmmaker.
It doesn’t make any sense. And I’ve watched the beginning of those tapes. Why all those police cars? What was this young man actually doing? And you’ve really heard silence out of that. They focus on the other aspects of it. Tell our audience what you guys heard and what your research showed you. You went to the Memphis Police Department. Talk to us about what’s going on.
Leahy: Today, of course, is the funeral of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. He died on January 10th. On January 7th, he was beaten to death by five former members of the Memphis Police Department on January 7. And they were members of a unit called SCORPION, 40 members out of the 2,000-member Memphis Police Department.
This is a special unit that was set up by the new – at that time – black woman who’s the chief of police there, Cerelyn Davis, and the mayor of Memphis, Jim Strickland, a Democrat. This was set up a little over a year ago. Forty members in this unit. They were supposed to be focused on high-crime areas looking for gang activity, drug-related crimes, and car theft. And, of course, you’ve seen the horrific video.
Bannon: But hang on. Hang on for a second. They’ve been used in other cities. This is a type of modern policing. They have had, particularly in high crime areas. They’ve had successes. They’ve been very controversial, whether, in New York, they all go by different names. They’re kind of tiger teams that, as a unit, kind of focus on whether it’s drug trafficking, arms, gun shipment, or human trafficking. They’re very controversial.
In the SCORPION Unit, I believe the police chief where she came from had also used these types of units. It’s part of modern policing. And at the time it was put forward, I think it was received in general in Memphis, which was having a crime problem, as being the type of police initiative that you need to see. Am I incorrect on that?
Leahy: It was promoted by the mayor to that effect. Very few Memphians actually were aware of this 40-member unit. There are four problems with the unit. Number one, lack of supervision. Number two, lack of training. Number three, there was a problem with the quality of the individuals and the experience of the individuals in this 40-member unit.
And then number four, they had a history of violence. The incident, the video cam that you saw began with a police officer approaching 29-year-old Tyre Nichols and dragging him out of the vehicle without saying the standard police protocol warning, sir, please show us your driver’s license and registration.
Purportedly, they claimed that he had been driving erratically. First, that wasn’t their mission. Second, there’s no evidence that he was, in fact, driving erratically. We reached out to the Memphis Police department because, as you know Steve…
Bannon: Slow down. This gets back to SCORPION as a policing technique. Everything you listed there is about how it’s implemented in Memphis. The concept and the construct have been used in other places. Sometimes good, sometimes people didn’t like the results.
It’s been very controversial in many of these things, but it’s been used to thwart at least certain areas of either drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, or human trafficking, where they think they have a big problem. I never heard of any of those.
And we’ve looked at the ones in the other cities I’ve never seen where actual driving trafficking was ever…this is what didn’t make sense at the beginning. Unless this guy was under surveillance for something that the unit would be like drug trafficking or fentanyl, whatever it is, it appears that Mr. Nichols had no involvement in anything like that.
Nothing’s come forward. Why would these guys even come in on somebody that is “driving erratically?” Because I heard also, oh, he ran a stoplight, stop sign. Why have they not come up with anything definitive about exactly what it was? And why were five police cars following this guy that were on the scene immediately?
Leahy: These are questions that haven’t been answered. And of course, as far as we can tell, no record of Tyre Nichols, and he was coming from his job at FedEx and driving to his mother’s house where he was living. What’s interesting about this is Memphis. As you know, Steve, we are very well connected to people all around the state of Tennessee.
I can tell you that I talked to more than two dozen of our good sources in Memphis, and they all told me the same story, that they had no first-hand evidence. But they all said sources within the Memphis Police Department had told them the following:
Number one, one of the police officers and one of the five former police officers who have now been arrested on charges of second-degree murder targeted Tyre Nichols because Mr. Nichols had a personal relationship with the significant other of one of the police officers.
That’s one of these rumors that everyone in Memphis is talking about. The second rumor is that at least one of the members of this five-member unit of the SCORPION task force was connected to or affiliated in some way with the Vice Lord’s Gang, which is a very large gang based out of Chicago.
Obviously, these are rumors. We didn’t have any original sources. So we thought the way to kind of flush this out was to actually ask the Memphis Police Department to comment and to confirm or deny these rumors. And they actually did.
We talked to them last night via email, and they gave us a very interesting kind of lawyerly parsed response. We asked them to confirm or deny those two claims, and their statement was, “There is no evidence that indicates that either of these claims is true.” A carefully parsed statement like that suggests there’s much more to look into.
Bannon: Hang on. You worked with me at Breitbart for many years. You’ve got your own news empire that spans, I don’t know what, 10 battleground states. You’re breaking incredible news all the time. In the business, we refer to that as a non-denial denial, sir.
Leahy: Yes. Interestingly enough, Steve, we couldn’t do a story based on secondhand rumors. So the way to get this information out in the public was to ask the Memphis Police Department for a response, and they gave us that non-denial denial, which obviously raises more questions that still remain unanswered.
Bannon: Here’s what I don’t get with all the national and media on this. Why isn’t the Memphis police not being forced to come forward and just lay out some basic stuff? I guess it’s kind of like it’s Biden’s situation. Like go back to November 2nd, and see what got the lawyers in the room on November 2nd. Don’t worry about all the other stuff. It’s not important.
But they’re spinning around, chasing their tail now. With Mr. Nichols, I’d like to understand exactly what happened when he was pulled over. Why did he split? What exactly happened? Why was he there? Why did they come upon him? Why did they have so many police officers and so many police cars?
At the beginning, it looks like he had no record. He was working at FedEx, which is a big employer, particularly in that part of town. He was going over to his mom’s house, where he lived with his mom and stepdad. He seemed to be a fine, upstanding citizen.
There are so many questions, but the media is not focused on that part of it. What is it going to take to get the Memphis police out and force them to answer? Because those questions, they have to have a better understanding of it than the spin they just gave you.
Leahy: Yes, we are trying to bring that all out now. Let me tell you, the forces that are trying to, I believe, not get all the information out. First, the Memphis Police Department as a unit does not want all the dirty laundry to come out. That’s point number one. There are many, many very good police officers in the Memphis Police Department, and we believe that some of them are talking off the record to our sources about this.
But very concerning, the Shelby County District Attorney there, Steve Mulroy, recently elected, is a wait for it…George Soros-funded district attorney. And so there is a political agenda that he seeks to promote, and they all seek to promote, which is the need for federalizing police law enforcement. That is a canard.
This is not a situation of the need for federalizing police enforcement. This is a situation where you have to break up the corruption going on in Memphis and the incompetence. That’s what this really is. And we need all the help that we can get. Whistleblowers in Memphis can contact us at The Tennessee Star on the web at tennesseestar.com.
We are following up on this relentlessly. We’ve asked, for instance, the Memphis Police Department, who supervised this unit. We haven’t gotten that information back yet. What were the training standards they used? What’s the documentation of supervision? That’s not there yet, and it may not be there. That’s the kind of information we need to know to get to the bottom of what really happened here.
Bannon: Just before I let you go, the two dozen or so people that you talk to and got this information from, are they saying, hey, this is what they’re talking about out there. Have they had any response to your article since it went up and particularly the Memphis Police Department’s non-denial, denial?
Leahy: I’ve spent the day trying to reach all of our sources there to see if we can get more whistleblowers. But I have to tell you, the city of Memphis has half a century or more of corruption run by a Democrat administration. And so there’s a lot of fear there. There are a lot of really good police officers. They want this information out, but getting it out in this environment is a big challenge.
Bannon: Unbelievable. How do they get to The Tennessee Star and all your other great sites? You guys are breaking great news throughout the country every day.
Leahy: Steve, thank you so much for giving us this platform to get this out. And we always hear from many, many members of the posse, many of them in Memphis or in that area. Please contact us. Go to tennesseestar.com. You can reach me on Twitter or GETTR at Michael P. Leahy.
Bannon: The Star News Network is one of our partners. And I got to tell you, I hear compliments all the time when we’re at these different conferences. I want everybody, particularly good folks, in Tennessee to make sure you’re always on The Tennessee Star and getting in contact with Leahy with any scoops and news that you have. Thank you very much.
Leahy: Thanks, Steve. I appreciate your help.
By Julie Carr