SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Police around the U.S. and right here at home are broadly condemning the way George Floyd, who died in police custody, was restrained by a Minneapolis officer who dug his knee into the man’s neck.
They say there are no circumstances that warrant such a restraint and it’s fraught with danger, easy to cut off someone’s air supply.
“Any officer who abuses their power or stands by and allows it to happen does not deserve to wear the badge, period,” Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown said.
Some find it equally disturbing that other officers at the scene apparently did not try to intervene and put a stop to it.
All four officers involved in the arrest were fired Tuesday hours after a bystander’s video showed Floyd restrained for nearly eight minutes despite repeated protests that he was unable to breathe.
“In many instances, more context is needed in order to effectively judge police conduct shown on video… but this is not one of those instances,” said Statesboro Police Chief Mike Broadhead in a statement released Thursday.
The actions of the officers in Minneapolis are not defensible. The officers and staff of the Statesboro Police Department share the disgust that many of you have after watching the callous and indifferent attitude of those officers as a man pleaded for help.
There are many of you in our community who are big supporters of the police and may have conflicted feelings about how to react to this video. In many instances, more context is needed in order to effectively judge police conduct shown on video… but this is not one of those instances. You can support the police and not support the actions of these officers.
There is a phenomenon known as “positional asphyxia” which law enforcement has been aware of for at least the past couple of decades. If these officers are unaware of the dangers of positional asphyxia then shame on them and shame on their department.
Police misconduct cannot be tolerated. I am firmly convinced that good police officers need to stand up and point out police misconduct. When people call for help, we help. When the police act badly, we should admit it and eliminate it. The vast majority of police officers in this nation want to do the right thing. But they need to stand up when they see misconduct.
We stand with our community against violence, regardless of the perpetrator. When you call for help, we are here to help. This is not a political issue. This is not a police versus community issue. This is a simple matter of right and wrong. We are here to do right.Broadhead
Chief Roy Minter of the Savannah Police Department issued an internal statement Thursday and later made it public.
“Law enforcement is a profession based on core values such as honesty, integrity, character, professionalism, respect and accountability,” it says, in part. “Any conduct that is inconsistent with these values undermines the trust the public places in us.”
Savannah City Council dedicated 20 minutes of Thursday’s meeting to discuss their reaction to Floyd’s ‘heartbreaking’ death and how they are making sure Savannah Police Officers are professional at all times.
“What those officers did was [without] respect and integrity and, unfortunately, there’s no place in law enforcement for those individuals,” said police officer and District 6 Alderman Kurtis Purtee.
Floyd’s case and the recent shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick have once again laid bare the divide between minority communities and law enforcement that grew to a nationwide uproar following the officer killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in 2014 and the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in 2015, among others.
The Associated Press contributed to this report