Fallout Continues in Tyre Nichols Case, United Nations Says Force Violated International Norms in Nichols and Keenan Anderson Incidents

Kisha Smith

Two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies—Jeremy Watkins and Johntavious Bowers—have been suspended without pay for five days for their failure to report that they were at the scene of the beating—which should have led to more oversight of the incident and intervention to help Nichols—in violation of several department policies.

The suspended officers were also cited for failing to keep their bodycams and in-car video turned on while at the arrest location.

“Because I had concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols, I ordered this internal investigation,” said Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr.

“Our investigation was thorough and complete. I am satisfied that the discipline given to these deputies was thorough and complete.”

The sheriff’s office said it moved forward with the discipline after determining that there would be no charges leveled against the two deputies by either the district attorney or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

So far, six Memphis police officers and three fire department employees have been fired in the wake of the fatal beating.

Meanwhile, United Nations experts have expressed grave concern over the deaths of Keenan Anderson at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department and Tyre Nichols, beaten by police in Memphis.

“The brutal deaths of Keenan Anderson and Tyre Nichols are more reminders of the urgency to act,” said Yvonne Mokgoro, Chairperson of the UN International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement.

In both cases, the experts stressed that the force used appears to have violated international norms protecting the right to life and prohibiting torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It is also not in line with standards set out under the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

“The use of less-lethal weapons continues to raise serious concerns when it comes to States’ obligation to protect the right to life and the right to be free from torture and other ill-treatment. Such weapons can cause death, serious body injuries and permanent disability,” noted Morris Tidball-Binz, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

“Following the invitation of the Government of the United States of America received last December to visit the country, the UN International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement will be conducting a much-needed official mission to the US in April 2023,” Mokgoro said. “We will engage with the Government and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that police brutality is addressed with determination and that victims and their families obtain justice”.

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