Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor and the family of a black man killed by Minneapolis police last summer have condemned allegations that Los Angeles officers circulated a mock Valentine’s photo of George Floyd with the caption “You take your breath away.”
The LAPD has launched an internal investigation and was scheduled Monday to interview the officer who reported the incident, Chief Michel Moore told The Times on Saturday. No further information was available Monday afternoon, a spokesman for the LAPD said.
Floyd was killed in May after an officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes when Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” His death led to protests and worldwide anger, which have been amplified by accusations of the mock valentine.
“This is beyond insult on top of injury – it’s injury on top of death,” the Floyd family’s lawyer Ben Crump said in a statement. “The kind of insensitivity and cruelty within a person’s soul that is necessary to do something like this avoids understanding – and is a sign of a much bigger problem within the LAPD culture.”
Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón also issued a statement on Monday, calling the allegations “extremely disturbing” and saying everyone involved should be fired.
“Celebrating the murder of a black man at the hands of the police shows a profound absence of humanity,” Gascón said. “The mocking Valentine underscores the very problematic and frankly racist view that permeates the culture of law enforcement with respect to the communities we have vowed to protect and serve.”
Gascón praised Moore’s “swift action” to investigate, saying the district attorney’s office will also “investigate the case to determine if the integrity of any of our cases may have been compromised by biased police work.”
The incident was highlighted by an LAPD officer who reported that the picture of Floyd was “passed on” by other officers, Moore said Saturday.
The trade union representing LAPD officers also condemned the mock valentine.
“The Los Angeles Police Protective League rejects this heinous image and anyone associated with its creation, dissemination or passive observation of it,” the statement said.
“If the image was created,” liked “or shared by a member of the LAPD, the Chief of Police must act quickly to hold those persons accountable,” it said. “There must be zero tolerance for this behavior in our profession.”
The complaining officer was to be interviewed Monday, Moore said, with the goal of determining where and how the image could have come into the workplace, online or otherwise, and who might have been involved.
“Our investigation is to determine the accuracy of the allegations, while strengthening our zero tolerance for anything with racist views,” the chief said.
If the department confirms that officers are circulating the picture, “people will find my anger,” Moore said.
Moore also confirmed that the department is investigating two Instagram accounts that people have reported as possibly linked to the department’s staff – including one called “Blue Line Mafia.”
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