(WAFB) - Leaders of law enforcement agencies around Louisiana published statements condemning the use of force against George Floyd during an arrest, and Floyd’s subsequent death.
Floyd was being detained in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25 after a store clerk allegedly suspected he was using a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase and alerted law enforcement, officials said.
During that arrest, an officer was filmed pinning Floyd to the ground by pressing his knee onto Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
The video shows Floyd say “I can’t breathe,” “I’m about to die,” “Don’t kill me,” and note to responding officers that “everything hurts.”
Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
“For many years I have not commented on national headlines in which law enforcement have been involved; however this incident involving the Minneapolis Police Department cannot go unaddressed,” said Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi.
Stassi said in a statement:
"As the chief law enforcement officer of Iberville Parish, I share in the nation’s outrage over the tragic death of George Floyd. Situations of this caliber creates a stereotype that all law enforcement are harmful to those citizens we encounter. This is untrue and overshadows all the good law enforcement does for our community. Sadly, it takes one officer to destroy the image of our profession and the trust we have worked so hard to build over the years in our parish.
It is always my job to ensure our deputies are policing under the rule of law and equal justice for everyone, something I take very seriously. Our deputies come to work to protect and serve. We must continue building trust and relationships in our community and not allow events such as these overshadow the good relationships we have built and maintained.
While we continue to pray for peace in Minneapolis, please pray for our officers doing their lawful job each day and justice for George Floyd and his family."
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul released a statement saying:
“The unfortunate incidents in Minneapolis are not only trending on social media, but the outrage, anger, questions, and conversations has made its way to communities across our Nation. As the Chief of Police of Baton Rouge, I share in America’s outrage over the death of Mr. George Floyd. The video of Mr. Floyd’s death is shocking to the conscious. One of our responsibilities as law enforcement officers is the protection of life. Life is so precious! Our training and policies must emphasize de-escalation and the “sanctity of human life.” I condemn the actions of the Minneapolis police officers involved in the incident. No one deserves to be treated in such an inhumane way. Please continue praying for our police officers and we join the nation in praying for the city of Minneapolis and the George Floyd family.”
East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux released the following statement:
"I share in the outrage, frustration and sadness of the treatment and tragic death of George Floyd. I was sickened and heartbroken to see such callous disregard for another human being. I have always said that if you do not have a heart for service, there is no place for you in law enforcement. Unfortunately, such reprehensible behavior undermines the important relationship and trust between law enforcement and the community we serve. Most of us share the same desires for peace, security and equality. Now, more than ever, we must do the work needed to repair and strengthen that relationship and restore trust through respect and compassion.
I want to thank those in our community that have peacefully protested. I respect and appreciate your right to be heard. I personally value your voice and your input. As leaders we must humbly listen and committedly learn and grow.
Last night on Siegen Lane our deputies worked with the many peaceful protestors and spent hours helping facilitate and keep them safe as they walked. We did, however, have to step in at one point when some lay down in the roadway. While the vast majority of those present were peaceful, a small group threw water bottles and rocks at law enforcement, breaking a window.
I want to reassure any protestors that we will continue to ensure your safety and protect your right to peacefully assemble and speak freely, as we will ensure the safety of all of our residents and their property. We will not allow any acts of violence, destruction of property or obstruction of our roadways. Standing or walking in the road not only obstructs traffic, potentially blocking life-saving first responders, it is dangerous to the pedestrian as well as those in vehicles.
I pray that as a community and as a nation we will continue to come together and listen to each other with compassion and treat each other with respect and kindness."
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore released the following statement:
Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre in a statement said:
"The events in Minneapolis compel me to speak to you as your sheriff about questions of justice, the rule of law, and the sacredness of human life. I want to be clear: I have seen the video of the final moments of George Floyd’s life and I condemn the actions of the Minneapolis police officers.
Law enforcement must adhere to the protection of life and the preservation of constitutional rights by using policing methods that prioritize de-escalation and the safety of all involved. The actions and omissions of these officers do no such thing. The Minneapolis Police Department’s quick termination was the absolutely right thing to do. I know an investigation into the matter is absolutely warranted and I believe will likely lead to criminal charges.
No one should be treated like this, most especially by law enforcement officers. We are to hold ourselves, and expect to be held by others, to the highest standards that befit the noble role of protecting and serving people. Your sheriff’s office continuously trains on how, when and why to use force so that we meet the highest standards and I assure you that I will continue to lead the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office by the highest standards."
St. James Parish Sheriff Willy J. Martin Jr. released a statement saying:
"The senseless and tragic death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis has compelled law enforcement leaders to speak out.
The video of Mr. Floyd’s death is unsettling and hard to watch, but it will be watched repeatedly to guarantee justice for him. As law enforcement officers, we cannot allow emotions or lack thereof to dictate how we serve you, the public, and enforce the laws. We must always exhibit empathy without compromising our duty to serve justly and fairly.
Officers must constantly self-evaluate not only their actions in moments of crisis, but that of their peers. Law enforcement officers must never be afraid to take corrective action if we see inhumane treatment of individuals. The oath to protect and serve applies to everyone.
Please join the men and women of your St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office in praying for George Floyd’s family and for justice and peace in Minneapolis."
The New Orleans Police Department released a statement saying,
"The circumstances that led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody are troubling and disturbing. The New Orleans Police Department does not condone what officers did and did not do in the death of Mr. Floyd.
NOPD officers are encouraged to do interventions with one another when necessary as part of their EPIC training. EPIC stands for – ‘Ethical Policing is Courageous.’ EPIC teaches officers methods to prevent their own from participating in police misconduct.
The NOPD is committed to using training, like EPIC, to help provide the best constitutional policing for the citizens of New Orleans."
The immediate aftermath of Floyd’s death has inspired demonstrations in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and confrontations with officers where tear gas and rubber bullets have been used.
Looters have used the demonstrations for cover to vandalize stores and set fires to buildings in the Lake Street area of Minneapolis.
National Guard troops are being deployed to assist law enforcement in monitoring demonstrations.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the spokesperson for President Donald Trump have condemned the officer’s actions.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for the officer videoed with his knee on Floyd’s neck, identified in multiple reports as Derek Chauvin, to be criminally charged.
The FBI and Justice Department have been called in to investigate.
Chauvin and three other officers have been fired, officials said.
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