The Shelby County sheriff on Wednesday suspended two deputies without pay for five days for unspecified conduct after they appeared at the scene where Memphis city police severely beat Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died three days later.
Five Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder and they and a sixth officer were fired for the beating that occurred after a traffic stop on Jan. 7, prompting a national public outcry.
Memphis lies within Shelby County, Tennessee, and while city police usually have jurisdiction within city limits, county sheriff’s deputies may also respond.
Sheriff Floyd Bonner said in a statement he had concerns about the two deputies who appeared on the scene and ordered an investigation that resulted in the two suspensions, which he called “appropriate and just.”
Three fire department employees were fired and other first responders remain under investigation after Nichols was kicked, punched, smacked with a baton, shot with a stun gun and sprayed with pepper spray following a traffic stop.
Afterward he was left unattended, handcuffed behind his back, for several minutes as uniformed personnel milled about, according to police video of the incident.
Among those responding to the scene were Shelby County sheriff’s deputies Jeremy Watkins and Johntavious Bowers, the sheriff’s department said in the statement.
“Based on the Sheriff’s Office current belief that there will be no charges from the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) and District Attorney’s Office investigation/review, the SCSO believes it is appropriate to release the outcomes of the internal review at this time,” the department said.
It did not specify what the deputies did or neglected to do to merit suspension. But it listed the regulations they violated, including radio communication procedures, mobile video recording system procedures, and patrol field job duties and responsibilities.
Reuters could not determine if the deputies were represented by lawyers who could make a statement in their defense. The Shelby County Deputy Sheriffs Association, the deputies’ union, could not be reached for comment.