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2 sheriff's deputies suspended for their role in Tyre Nichols arrest didn't keep body cameras on, officials reveal

Officers charged in Nichols' death face case review
Memphis officers charged in Tyre Nichols' death face case review 02:11

Two sheriff's deputies who have been suspended for five days for their role in the arrest of Tyre Nichols failed to keep their body cameras activated after they went to the location where Nichols had been beaten by five Memphis police officers, officials said late Wednesday.

Shelby County Sheriff's Office deputies Jeremy Watkins and Johntavious Bowers each violated multiple policies after they reported to the location of Nichols' violent arrest on Jan. 7, Sheriff Floyd Bonner said in a statement.

Nichols had fled a traffic stop but was caught near his home by Memphis Police Department officers who punched him, kicked him and hit him with a baton, police video footage and other documents showed.

Video released by the city showed several law enforcement officers standing around as Nichols struggled with serious injuries while he sat on the ground, propped up against a police car. Nichols was taken to a hospital in an ambulance that left the location of the beating 27 minutes after emergency medical technicians arrived, authorities have said.

Nichols died at a hospital on Jan. 10. Five Memphis officers accused of beating Nichols have been fired and charged with second-degree murder. One other Memphis officer has been fired but not charged criminally for his role in the traffic stop that preceded the beating.

The sheriff's office previously had said two deputies who went to the scene after Nichols was beaten had been disciplined and were under investigation. But the county law enforcement office had not divulged further details, including their names and the actions they took - or did not take.

Reports released by the sheriff's office late Wednesday showed Bowers and Watkins were suspended for five days without pay for failing to keep their body cameras and in-car video turned on while they were at the arrest location.

The deputies also did not notify dispatch or their supervisor, the reports showed. Watkins also did not report on his daily log that he went to the arrest location, according to the reports.

Bonner said the sheriff's office does not believe that the deputies will face criminal charges.

Bowers and Watkins have been Shelby County deputies since June 2021, Bonner said. Both suspensions began Wednesday.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have been confronted with a new round of appeals for police reform following Nichols' death.

"We are calling on our colleagues in the House and Senate to jumpstart negotiations now and work with us to address the public health epidemic of police violence that disproportionately affects many of our communities," Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Steven Horsford said in a statement.

Police reform negotiations broke down in 2021 after months of extensive discussions between then-Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois urged both senators to return to the table.

Talks broke down after Booker and Scott failed to reach agreement on a Democratic proposal to codify an executive order from the Trump administration that would have enacted reforms such as banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants and improving federal data collection efforts.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would limit qualified immunity for officers, prevent racial profiling and restrict the use of excessive force. It was passed twice by the Democratic-controlled House in 2020 and 2021 but its prospects remain uncertain with the GOP in control of the majority in that chamber. 

Nikole Killion contributed to this report.

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