UPDATE: JULY 6, 2021 — A Los Angeles Police Department officer accused of circulating an online “valentine” mocking the murder of George Floyd will avert discipline after a three-person civilian panel cleared him of any wrongdoing.
According to an attorney for the unnamed officer—a sergeant with the department’s air support division—he didn’t distribute the offensive meme, but rather sent it to a commander to make a complaint.
When LAPD Chief Michel Moore announced that the department was investigating the meme—a photo of Floyd and the text “You take my breath away”—he was praised for taking quick action to weed out any officers who may have been involved in sending around the racist image.
“Whoever participated in this incident stains the badge, and undermines the efforts of officers throughout the department who strive to earn the trust and respect of the communities they serve,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said at the time.
“Celebrating the murder of a Black man at the hands of police demonstrates a profound absence of humanity,” District Attorney George Gascón said at the time. “The mock Valentine underscores the highly problematic, and frankly racist, perceptions that pervade law enforcement culture regarding the communities we are sworn to protect and serve.”
The Board of Rights, the civilian panel tasked with deciding misconduct allegations, doesn’t exactly have a robust record of taking officers to task. A recent inspector general’s report found that that in 77 percent of cases where Chief Michel Moore had recommended an officer be fired, civilian panels handed down a more lenient punishment. In 11 instances, cops who would have been terminated remained on the force. The civilian panels never issued a stronger decision than the police chief.
FEBRUARY 15, 2021 — LAPD officers reportedly circulated a “Valentine” featuring a photo of George Floyd with the words “You take my breath away.” An investigation is now underway, though it has not been made public how many officers may have been involved in sharing the image or who was responsible for its creation.
On Monday, the Floyd family responded to reports of the offensive Valentine.
“This is beyond insult on top of injury—it’s injury on top of death,” the family’s attorney, Ben Crump, said in a statement reported by the Los Angeles Times. “The type of callousness and cruelty within a person’s soul needed to do something like this evades comprehension—and is indicative of a much larger problem within the culture of the LAPD.”
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón also issued a statement regarding the matter, which was blunt in its criticism of racism within the police department.
“Celebrating the murder of a Black man at the hands of police demonstrates a profound absence of humanity,” he wrote. “The mock Valentine underscores the highly problematic, and frankly racist, perceptions that pervade law enforcement culture regarding the communities we are sworn to protect and serve.”
In his statement, Gascón praises LAPD Chief Michel Moore for taking “swift action” to address the internal report of the incident, and went on to add that, not only did he feel that any officer involved in sharing the image has “no place in law enforcement,” but that he would be reviewing cases associated with any identified officers.
“The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will be looking into this matter to determine if the integrity of any of our cases may have been compromised by biased police work,” the statement says.
On Monday evening, City Attorney Mike Feuer also released a statement, saying, “No one with racist views has any place in our police force. It is outrageous that anyone sworn to serve our City would ever conceive of creating or distributing this image. I commend Chief Moore’s swift action in getting to the bottom of this, and his commitment to hold the offending officer(s) accountable. Whoever participated in this incident stains the badge, and undermines the efforts of officers throughout the department who strive to earn the trust and respect of the communities they serve.”
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