Peoria Police Chief: George Floyd’s death is ‘disturbing,’ ‘unacceptable’

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A chain portrait of George Floyd is part of the memorial for him, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, near the site of the arrest of Floyd who died in police custody Monday night in Minneapolis after video shared online by a bystander showed a white officer kneeling on his neck during his arrest as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Chief of Police for the Peoria Police Department is speaking out on the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for at least seven minutes, was handcuffed and lying face down on the road during the incident. It was documented by an onlooker and has since sparked protests and riots. The four officers involved were fired the next day.

Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion issued a statement Thursday and offered his condolences to Floyd’s family. He said the incident was “disturbing” and “unacceptable.”

“On Tuesday evening I saw the video of the incident with officers from the Minneapolis Police Department and Mr. George Floyd,” Marion said. “Upon seeing the video, it angered me.”

“I feel the immediate termination of these officers was warranted and just,” he continued. “I also feel that it is proper for the FBI to step in and investigate the incident.”

Marion stressed that he hopes the relationship between police and community members does not diminish because “of those officers” that give the rest of the police force “a bad name.”

Marion said he discussed the situation immediately within the organization, and he wanted to make sure that members of the PPD knew the actions and techniques of the officers involved “was not acceptable.”

Lt. John Briggs, who oversees Use of Force training, also discussed the situation with officers, saying, “Under no circumstance should we ever do what the officer in this video did.”

Briggs said that if a suspect says they cannot breathe, officers must “make every attempt” to make sure they can get in position to be able to and are given medical attention if needed.

“[…] The actions of the Minneapolis Police Officers depicted in the video are unacceptable and in no way reflective upon the values and training of the Peoria Police Department,” Marion said.

Marion’s full statement can be read below:

I want to start off by saying my condolences go out to the Floyd family. On Tuesday evening I saw the video of the incident with officers from the Minneapolis Police Department and Mr. George Floyd. Upon seeing the video, it angered me. The way the officers treated Mr. Floyd was disturbing and unacceptable. I feel the immediate termination of these officers was warranted and just. I also feel that it is proper for the FBI to step in and investigate the incident.

It is the actions of those officers that give police officers a bad name. I refuse to sit back and let an incident like this cast a negative light on the Peoria Police Department. The men and women of the Peoria Police Department work too hard to have the actions of a few officers tear down what we have built when it comes to community relations. I don’t like to come to conclusions without knowing all the facts, but I can’t think of any reason that these officers responded the way the video depicts.

I also felt like I had to address the situation immediately within the organization. I wanted to make sure that if officers had seen the video, that they knew that the actions of the officers involved and the technique they used was not acceptable by the Peoria Police Department.

Loren Marion, Peoria Police Chief

The email Briggs sent internally to the department can be read below:

The video within the article is only a small clip of what transpired in Minneapolis. If you search for the video online I am sure everyone can find the video in its entirety. I wanted to send this out so everyone is aware of what happened during this incident in Minneapolis. Furthermore I wanted to touch on some training points. Under no circumstance should we ever do what the officer in this video did. The suspect was hand cuffed and on the ground. The officer is kneeling on the suspects neck to keep him pinned to the ground.

I don’t want to Monday morning quarter back this thing too much without all the details, but I don’t want any officer to think this technique is okay. Whenever we have someone in custody it is our duty to care for that person. If someone says they cannot breathe, make every attempt to get that subject into a position so they can breathe. Always get medical attention for people in our custody if they need it or ask for it. Be aware of positional asphyxiation. Even keeping someone handcuffed on their stomach for an extended period of time is not okay. We need to get subjects in our custody sat up or on their side so they do not have trouble breathing due to their positioning. If a subject is hand cuffed and out of control we need to get them secured inside a vehicle, or in this scenario they could have even sat him up and pinned him against the car using his arms. Under no circumstance should we be pinning someone to the ground by their neck that is in hand cuffs.

We are trained in ground/high risk hand cuffing, and we are trained to use the shoulder pin in order to effect an arrest in those circumstances. Do not put your knee or any pressure on the suspects neck to affect this arrest, unless you have reason to use deadly force. Furthermore, it is every officer on scene responsibility to care for subjects in our custody. If you observe an officer doing something they shouldn’t or not doing something they should, step up and step in. Take control of the situation and make sure everyone is safe, including people in our custody. Let me know if anyone has questions about this incident or my remarks. Be safe.

Lt. John Briggs

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