World Events

LAPD officer who allegedly shared George Floyd ‘Valentine’ meme should be fired, chief says

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore wants an officer to be fired for allegedly sharing a Valentine-style meme of George Floyd’s face and the phrase “You take my breath away.”

Moore’s decision sends the officer, who has not been publicly identified, to a disciplinary panel that will rule on how the officer should be punished, if at all. As chief, Moore does not have the authority to fire officers.

Electing to send the officer’s case to the panel, known as a Board of Rights, was the “most aggressive act” he could take, Moore said. He added that he hoped the move will send a clear message that the department does not tolerate such behavior because of “how corrosive it is to the public trust” in law enforcement.

Under the rules for Boards of Rights, the officer can choose to have his case heard by a panel of two LAPD officers of the rank of captain or higher and one civilian panelist, or a panel of three civilians.

State privacy laws prevent the department from naming the officer.

Floyd died in May 2020 when then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes during an arrest. Floyd, who was handcuffed and not resisting, repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”

The case spurred protests against police brutality around the nation and world, including in L.A. Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in a jury trial in Minneapolis last month.

In February, Moore confirmed that the LAPD had launched an internal investigation after an officer reported the Valentine-like meme of Floyd. The inquiry was conducted in part to determine whether the meme originated within the department, and how widely it was shared, Moore said at the time.

In March, Moore announced the department had identified a single officer who had shared the image. He also said that the department was investigating social media accounts that were reportedly connected to LAPD officers and had posted “racist and prejudicial postings and remarks.”

On Tuesday, Moore told the Police Commission that investigators believe the officer found the image online and sent it to one other officer, who was alarmed by the image.

Moore did not comment Tuesday on the broader investigation into the social media accounts.

Because of the city’s interpretation of a court ruling on police privacy laws, the outcome of the officer’s Board of Rights hearing will not be made public, unless the officer appeals his punishment in state court.

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