Police leaders nationwide speak out against Minn. custody death

"There IS a need to DO something. If you wear a badge and you don't have an issue with this...turn it in"


Stefanie Dazio
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES —  Police nationwide have condemned the actions of Minneapolis police in the custody death of a handcuffed black man who died as an officer knelt on his neck, pinning him to the pavement for at least eight minutes.

Authorities say George Floyd was detained Monday because he matched the description of someone who tried to pay with a counterfeit bill at a convenience store, and the 46-year-old resisted arrest. A bystander's disturbing video shows Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd's neck, even as Floyd begs for air and slowly stops talking and moving.

“There is no need to see more video,” Chattanooga, Tennessee, Police Chief David Roddy tweeted Wednesday. “There no need to wait to see how ‘it plays out’. There is no need to put a knee on someone’s neck for NINE minutes. There IS a need to DO something. If you wear a badge and you don’t have an issue with this ... turn it in.”

The reaction from some law enforcement stands in stark contrast to their muted response or support for police after other in-custody fatalities. Sheriffs and police chiefs have strongly criticized the Minneapolis officer on social media and praised the city’s police chief for his quick dismissal of four officers at the scene. Some even called for them to be criminally charged.

“I am deeply disturbed by the video of Mr. Floyd being murdered in the street with other officers there letting it go on,” Polk County, Georgia, Sheriff Johnny Moats wrote on Facebook. “I can assure everyone, me or any of my deputies will never treat anyone like that as long as I’m Sheriff. This kind of brutality is terrible and it needs to stop. All Officers involved need to be arrested and charged immediately. Praying for the family.”

Typically, police call for patience and calm in the wake of a use of force. They are reluctant to weigh in on episodes involving another agency, often citing ongoing investigations or due process.

“Not going hide behind ‘not being there,’" tweeted San Jose Police, California, Chief Eddie Garcia. "I’d be one of the first to condemn anyone had I seen similar happen to one of my brother/ sister officers. What I saw happen to George Floyd disturbed me and is not consistent with the goal of our mission. The act of one, impacts us all.”

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw issued a statement likening Floyd's death to an "inhumane act" and "an atrocity."

“As a mother, I cannot relay enough the helplessness and sadness I feel when my sons, having been children of police officers their entire lives, relay to me that they fear for their lives because of the unjustified fear others have of them; solely due to their existence,” said Outlaw, who took command of department in January as the first African American woman to lead the department.

Outlaw said she applauds “the swift and certain response to this tragedy” by Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arrandondo.

“He has sent a clear message that this type of conduct, including by those who turn a blind eye, will not be tolerated in his ranks. I share Chief Arradondo’s sentiments, and will continue to work with all of our partner stakeholders to ensure that we are policing with fairness, transparency, and dignity for all communities,” Outlaw said.

The heads of the Los Angeles and Chicago departments — both of which have been rocked before by police brutality scandals — addressed Floyd's death and its potential effect on race relations between law enforcement and communities of color.

Even the New York Police Department weighed in. Eric Garner died in the city in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by police and uttered the same words Floyd did: “I can't breathe.”

"What we saw in Minnesota was deeply disturbing. It was wrong," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea wrote Thursday. “We must take a stand and address it. We must come together, condemn these actions and reinforce who we are as members of the NYPD. This is not acceptable ANYWHERE.”

Before he was commissioner, Shea spearheaded the NYPD’s shift to community policing that moved away from a more confrontational style favored by other commissioners after Garner's death.

Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who also spoke out online, told The Associated Press that law enforcement agencies keep promising reforms in the wake of fatalities, but they are "not delivering it on a consistent basis.”

“When bad things happen in our profession, we need to be able to call it like it is,” he said. “We keep thinking that the last one will be the last one, and then another one surfaces.”

Next: 'Do not do this': Kansas City PD official says police will be shown Minneapolis arrest video

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