Detroit Police Chief condemns killing of George Floyd, issues memo emphasizing de-escalation


Detroit Police Chief James Craig in June, 2015. - COURTESY OF DUSTIN BLITCHOK
  • Courtesy of Dustin Blitchok
  • Detroit Police Chief James Craig in June, 2015.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he supports the Minneapolis Police Department's firing of four officers involved in the killing of George Floyd, calling the event a "tragic wrongful death."

The death of Floyd, a 46-year old Black man, was caught on a grisly video showing an officer kneeling on his neck as he repeatedly told the officers "I cannot breathe," sparking mass protests in Minneapolis, Memphis, and Los Angeles. In Minneapolis, the protests have turned violent, with police using tear gas and rubber bullets on crowds as some lit buildings on fire and looted.

"On behalf of the city and the Detroit police department, our prayers go out to the victim, George Floyd, his family, his friends, and to everyone in the city of Minneapolis," Craig said at a press conference on Thursday. Craig said he stands in solidarity with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and an association of the chiefs of major cities in condemning the killing and supporting disciplinary action against the officers involved.

While praising MPD for firing the four officers, Craig said he believes the video evidence is sufficient for probable cause to arrest the officer seen kneeling on Floyd's neck.

Craig said his department has arrested its own officers in the past, citing several examples — including one as recently as March of this year, when an off-duty cop pulled a gun during a dispute at a party.

He also said he issued a memo to his department to reiterate the department's use of force policy, which prohibits neck restraints, and also emphasized the importance of de-escalation.

"Based on my 44 years of experience, I can tell you that when even one officer engages in excessive force, we all share the disappointment for the dishonor brings to our badge," he said. "Those of us in law enforcement take a solemn oath to protect and serve with courage, integrity, and respect. And that's what the community expects."

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