The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has launched an internal investigation after a Valentine’s Day-themed photo of George Floyd with the phrase “You take my breath away” was allegedly circulated among officers within the department.
Floyd passed away in May last year after former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over eight minutes despite repeatedly telling him he couldn’t breathe.
In a series of tweets on Saturday, the LAPD said it had “become aware” of allegations of the said image being circulated in the “workplace” as well as “allegations that the post with the image was authored by a department employee.”
“A personnel complaint has been initiated and we are pursuing each allegation including interviewing the department member who brought it to our attention,” the LAPD wrote. “At this point the Department has not identified any actual postings in the workplace or identified that it was in fact our department employee who created the image. We have raised the apparent existence of the image and directed commands to survey the worksites for it.”
The statement continued: “If found any employee or supervisor is directed to take possession and identify those present. The Department will have zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
The department also said it is yet to determine the origins of the image and how it was shared among its employees, CNN reported. “We do not know the source of that image, whether it was on social media, in an email or seen in another form. It’s unclear at this time if the image came from an original source outside the LAPD,” Capt. Stacy Spell told the news outlet.
Internal affairs officials in the department also told CNN they were going to probe further into the case by interviewing employees on Monday. The officials said they’ll try and determine the time and where the person saw the image as well as who was behind it. It is, however, unclear if those interviews were conducted.
Following the incident, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said his office is going to look into whether “the integrity of any of our cases may have been compromised by biased police work.”
“Celebrating the murder of a Black man at the hands of police demonstrates a profound absence of humanity. The mock valentine underscores the highly problematic, and frankly, racist perceptions that pervade the law enforcement culture regarding the communities we are sworn to protect and serve,” Gascón added.
Floyd’s family also expressed their dismay over the image and called for the dismissal of whoever was behind its circulation, CNN reported.
“The Floyd family is understandably outraged. This is beyond insult on top of injury — it’s injury on top of death. 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,” Floyd’s family attorney, Ben Crump, said in a statement.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League – the union representing the city’s police department – also released a statement condemning the incident.
“The Los Angeles Police Protective League repudiates this abhorrent image and anyone associated with its creation, dissemination, or passive observation of it,” a statement by the union said. “If that image was created, ‘liked,’ or shared by a member of the LAPD, the Chief of Police must act swiftly to hold those individuals accountable.”