Los Angeles officer cleared of wrongdoing for George Floyd 'Valentine'
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles police officer who shared a photo of George Floyd with the words “you take my breath away” in a Valentine-like format has been cleared of wrongdoing and will not face any punishment.
The officer, who has not been named publicly, was found not guilty of any administrative charges by a internal disciplinary panel comprised of community members, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed.
Police Chief Michel Moore had directed the officer to the panel, known as a Board of Rights, in May with the recommendation that the officer be fired. The chief does not have the authority to dismiss officers.
"The Department respects the disciplinary process and will direct employees to a board of rights where it is believed that termination is the appropriate penalty,” the LAPD said in a statement Tuesday.
The officer chose to have their case heard by a board of three civilians, instead of two LAPD officers of the rank of captain or higher and one civilian panelist. KNBC first reported the panel's findings.
Leslie Wilcox, the officer’s attorney, said the officer only shared the Valentine to report it to his superior.
“The Board of Rights panel was absolutely correct in exonerating the officer based on the evidence of this case. The officer found the meme offensive, he did not create the meme, nor did he distribute it beyond notifying a commanding officer of its existence,” Wilcox said in a statement. “This decision shows that the Board of Rights process works and that the civilian panel is able to put aside political pressure and focus on the evidence in front of them in making objective decisions.”
Moore had ordered an investigation into the racist Valentine in February, vowing that if the probe found that LAPD officers were circulating the image, “people will find my wrath."
“Our investigation is to determine the accuracy of the allegations while also reinforcing our zero tolerance for anything with racist views,” Moore said.
Floyd, a Black man, was killed in May 2020 after then-Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed a knee on his neck as Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” His death launched massive protests nationwide over racial injustice and police brutality, including in Los Angeles.
Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison last month for Floyd's murder.