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2 Shelby County deputies suspended over Tyre Nichols case

The deputies have not been criminally charged. Five Memphis police officers have been charged in the beating and death of Nichols, 29.
Protesters march on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn., over the death of Tyre Nichols.
Protesters march Jan. 28 in Memphis, Tenn., over the death of Tyre Nichols after he was beaten by Memphis police.Gerald Herbert / AP

Two Shelby County, Tennessee, sheriff’s deputies who arrived on the scene after Tyre Nichols was beaten by Memphis police officers have been suspended without pay, the sheriff’s office said Wednesday.

The two deputies, Jeremy Watkins and Johntavious Bowers, are suspended without pay for five days for violations of department policy, it said.

The deputies appeared on the scene after Nichols, 29, was beaten by Memphis police officers Jan. 7, the sheriff's office said.

Nichols was hospitalized and died three days later, and five Memphis police officers were fired and criminally charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

“Our investigation was thorough and complete. I am satisfied that the discipline given to these deputies is appropriate and just,” Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. said in a statement.

Nichols was pulled over at Raines and Ross roads and was aggressively yanked out of his car, officers shouted a confusing barrage of commands at him, and he fled after he was pepper-sprayed, video released by the city shows.

Nichols was then beaten by Memphis officers at Bear Creek Cove and Castlegate Lane, the video shows.

Watkins and Bowers are patrol deputies.

Watkins responded to Bear Creek Cove and Castlegate Lane but never told dispatch or a supervisor, he did not keep a body-worn camera recording, and he did not note on a daily log that he went there, disciplinary records say.

Bowers did not notify dispatch or a supervisor that he responded to the site of the traffic stop, Ross and Raines roads, or to Bear Creek Cove and Castlegate Lane, the documents in his case say. He also did not keep his camera activated, according to the documents.

Four videos of the police encounter with Nichols were released on Jan. 27, and what is shown on them has been widely condemned, including by FBI Director Christopher Wray and President Joe Biden.

Bonner, the sheriff, said at the time that he had seen the video for the first time and was concerned about two deputies who appeared on the scene, and he said he was launching an internal investigation.

Numbers for Watkins and Bowers could not immediately be found Wednesday night. The Shelby County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association union also did not respond to a request for comment.

Records released by the sheriff's office show that both deputies waived rights to pre-disciplinary hearings and agreed to the suspensions.