MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner spoke with ABC24 about his decision to suspend two deputies in the investigation into the beating and death of Tyre Nichols Thursday.
Deputies Jeremy Watkins and Johntavious Bowers are suspended for five days without pay for their roles in the violent traffic stop of Tyre Nichols.
“When the officers arrived on the scene, the fire department was already there,” Bonner said. “It would be just like a car crash – if we arrive on the scene and the medical personnel are already there, our officers are trained to let the medical personnel do what they need to do as far as rendering aid.”
Although the officers have been on administrative leave since the video was released nearly three weeks ago – their unpaid suspension didn’t start until February 15th and will only last five days.
“We looked at the totality of the situation and what they were charged with, but it was within our range and our discipline matrix,” Bonner said regarding the five-day timespan.
Their disciplinary reports say they tried to hide they were on the scene – neither of them activated their body cameras while there – and they didn't let supervisors know they were at the incident. Watkins also didn't say he was on scene in his daily log after the fact.
Sheriff Bonner said while he didn’t watch the Tyre Nichols video before it was made public, if he knew his officers were on the scene of a horrific encounter the night it happened, he would have had their body camera video reviewed accordingly. We now know both deputies’ body cameras were not activated at the scene.
Regarding department policy changes when it comes to violating body worn camera policies, Bonner said “we always take looks at our policies, at what we can do better, what we can do different and that won’t be any different than any other policies that we’ll take a look at.”
Sheriff Bonner said his conversation with the District Attorney office leads him to believe there will not be any criminal charges for anyone else in the sheriff’s office.