Connecting state and local government leaders
The card featured a photo of Floyd under the words, "you take my breath away." The investigation, announced Saturday, is ongoing, officials said this week.
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating reports that employees were circulating an offensive valentine that mocked the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed last year while in police custody in Minneapolis, officials said this week.
The department first announced the investigation Saturday on Twitter, saying officials were “aware of allegations that an image was being passed around the department” as well as claims that the card was “authored by a department employee.”
The Valentine’s Day-style card reportedly read “you take my breath away” above a photo of Floyd, who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than seven minutes. Floyd’s last words were, “I can’t breathe.” His death sparked nationwide protests and renewed calls for police reform.
Officials at the police department became aware of the image on Friday, after an LAPD employee told his supervisor that he’d seen it. That employee was interviewed on Monday, but the investigation is still ongoing, and Police Chief Michel Moore said that command staff hadn’t been able to find any copies of the card despite surveys of worksites throughout the community.
“We found no postings anywhere in the city, at any of our facilities,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
If the investigation determines that department employees or police officers were behind the creation or distribution of the image, Moore said, they’ll face consequences, including job termination.
“If you’re demonstrating discrimination, bias, racism, bigotry—those are, in my view, character flaws you don’t train someone out of,” he said. “I’m not going to keep them. I’m going to remove them, and I’m going to use all of my powers to do so.”
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said he would launch a concurrent investigation to “determine if the integrity of any of our cases may have been compromised by biased police work.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, said it repudiated the “abhorrent image” and supported dismissal for anyone involved in its dissemination.
“There must be zero tolerance for this behavior in our profession,” the organization said in a statement. “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.”
Floyd’s family was outraged and devastated by the news, saying through their attorney, Ben Crump, that they expected an apology and the swift firing of any officers involved.
“This is beyond insult on top of injury—it’s injury on top of death,” Crump said in a statement. “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. We demand that everyone who was involved is held accountable for their revolting behavior, and that an apology be issued to the family immediately.”
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.