LAPD chief promises punishment once probe is finished
Wave Staff and Wire Reports
LOS ANGELES — Any Los Angeles police officer who participated in the distribution of a photo mocking the death of George Floyd will be disciplined, Police Chief Michel Moore said Feb. 23, but he did not indicate what kind of punishment that might be.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Police Commission at its regular weekly meeting, Moore said the department was still conducting its internal investigation into the social media post featuring an image of Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last May, that included the words “You take my breath away.” Floyd died after the officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Black community activists have called for the firing of any LAPD employee who created or circulated the Valentine-themed post.
Moore told the commission that the department became aware of the photo because a group of officers saw it and were “disgusted by the existence” of the post. The department inspected all stations for any evidence of the image and is working to identify anyone who was involved in the creation or distribution of the image, which was posted on the Blue Line Mafia Instagram page. The page has since been taken down, according to Moore.
The post also drew criticism from various city leaders, the Floyd family attorney and even the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union for rank-and-file police officers.
“We must acknowledge that some portion within our profession and by extension within this department has explicit bias and extremist views,” Moore told the commission. “This is a similar conclusion that the Department of Defense has reached with its forces as it comes to terms with the members of its own armed forces being inside the Capitol this past January.”
Moore added that he believed the vast majority of the department’s personnel serve Los Angeles with “honor, integrity and compassion.”
The LAPD is working with internal and external cyber experts to identify if any LAPD officers created or distributed the image.
“My commitment is that anyone associated with the creation or dissemination of this image will be disciplined, and anyone who is engaged in promoting the imagery, mocking the death of George Floyd, or anyone for that matter, has no place in this department,” Moore said.
Reports of the image, and the subsequent complaint within the LAPD, first surfaced Feb. 12, two days before Valentine’s Day.
Screen grabs of the image allegedly referred to in the internal LAPD complaint, and posted on Twitter and elsewhere, show a picture of Floyd on a pink background surrounded by hearts with the words “You take my breath away” and Valentine-style spaces to designate who it is being sent “to” and “from.”
Floyd died last May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes as he repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” That officer, Derek Chauvin, is awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge.
Floyd’s death led to widespread protests in Black communities throughout the country that also led to fires and looting in some places.
“The family of George Floyd is outraged and devastated,” Project Islamic Hope director Najee Ali said at a news conference at the LAPD’s Harbor station Feb. 15, where an officer made a formal complaint about the post at the urging of Moore.
“It’s despicable and outrageous that there are LAPD employees who are in the workplace mocking the police murder of George Floyd,” Ali said.
The Floyd family attorney, Benjamin Crump, said, “The type of callousness and cruelty within a person’s soul for them to do something, evades comprehension and is indicative of a much larger problem with the culture of the LAPD.”
The LAPD’s union, often quick to defend officers accused of wrongdoing, also expressed outrage at the post.
“The Los Angeles Police Protective League repudiates this abhorrent image and anyone associated with its creation, dissemination, or passive observation of it,” the union said in a statement last week. “If that image was created, ‘liked,’ or shared by a member of the LAPD, the chief of police must act swiftly to hold those individuals accountable. There must be zero tolerance for this behavior in our profession, and any police officer who feels the need to be part of any online group that engages in, promotes, and/or celebrates this type of activity should quickly rethink their career choice because they clearly don’t have the judgment, nor temperament, to be a member of law enforcement.”