Probe ongoing into officers possibly linked to social media posts that mocked George Floyd’s death
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday that a mock Valentine’s Day message making fun of the death of George Floyd, which may have been shared among some of his department’s officers, came to light after two other officers found the image and came forward.
Moore said an internal investigation into how the image — which showed Floyd next to the words, “You take my breath away” — first started circulating among department employees began Friday, after one of the officers showed the image to a supervisor.
The first officer was talking to the second one that day about Black History Month, and how LAPD could “provide the honor, the recognition, the respect to the role of African Americans in our department,” the chief said in a virtual meeting with reporters on Tuesday.
He said that’s when the second officer “identified this image as existing.” He said both officers have since been interviewed.
Moore said the investigation will continue. He said LAPD still doesn’t know how many officers, if any, created or shared the image. He said LAPD’s command staff was ordered to review their facilities citywide to see if the image was posted anywhere, but the search didn’t turn up anything.
But he said if the department finds any officers were behind the image — either making it or distributing it — they could lose their jobs.
“They could be fired. They could be discharged,” Moore said. “They can be fired for conduct unbecoming of an officer. So if you’re demonstrating discrimination, bias, racism, bigotry — those are all, in my view, character flaws that you don’t train someone out of.
“I’m not going to keep them. I’m going to remove them, and I’m going to use all my powers to do so,” Moore continued.
The internal investigation comes as LAPD still struggles to repair its relationship with black residents of Los Angeles.
Moore met with clergy, gang intervention workers and other leaders in South Los Angeles last year in the aftermath of citywide protests following Floyd’s death. Other activist groups, like Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and those behind the “defund the police” movement, have said they don’t intend to meet with police — they want to replace all of LAPD. Those groups have also continued to call for Moore’s firing after he equated looters to the Minneapolis police officers accused of killing Floyd.
Since Saturday, when LAPD announced the investigation into the image, others have forcefully denounced the mock Valentine’s message.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing rank-and-file LAPD officers, denounced the image on Monday, saying in a statement that “there must be zero tolerance for this behavior in our profession.”
Ben Crump, an attorney for Floyd’s family, said they were informed about the image and were “understandably outraged.” He called the image “injury on top of death.”
Moore said Tuesday he spoke to L.A. Police Commission President Eileen Decker and members of the City Council about the investigation.
He vowed to not only continue the review of the sharing of the mock Valentine, but also to root out social media groups where officers might be sharing the same kind of disparaging and racist language.
Moore didn’t identify any social media groups in particular where he believed the activity might be occurring, but he said the department was investigating any that exist. He said those investigations started after internal complaints of officers who “participated in social media, or posts with groups that had similar types of postings — disgusting, or humiliating, or bullying types of postings based on race, gender, ethnicity or national origin.”
“We have active investigations into such groups,” Moore said.