HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The death of an unarmed African-American man in Minneapolis has sparked outrage across the country.
A viral video on social media shows George Floyd in handcuffs and on the ground while a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee into the man’s neck.
Floyd could be heard in the video saying he could not breathe. He died moments later. His final breath was caught on camera while he was in handcuffs.
The incident made waves across the nation and in Connecticut.
Local law enforcement leaders called the video disturbing.
“Seeing that video was heartbreaking and it was appalling,” said Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody. “Every interaction that we have with every citizen either furthers the trust or degrades it.”
Former Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara also told News 8 the video was hard to watch. He said, in his experience, he’s conducted a number of arrests, and while some have required force, what was captured on camera was simply excessive.
“That force has to be appropriate, and in this situation, clearly, you have an individual who is handcuffed, on the ground,” MacNamara said. “He is in custody. There is no need to use force at that moment.”
The heartbreaking video has now sparked new steps in Connecticut to reassess officer conduct and interactions with communities of color.
“In order for police officers to do their job, we have to understand the people that we’re helping,” MacNamara said. “We have to understand they’re afraid of us at times.”
Governor Ned Lamont echoed the need Thursday in a virtual town hall with the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus.
“It was a black man being murdered, and there was not one black cop that I could see in the picture,” Lamont said. “We need folks in the municipal police, we need folks in state police, and I urge you to use your networks to get a police force that reflects the diversity of our amazing state.”
Hartford’s Chief of Police said officers have been trained in racial bias sensitivity, but this incident in Minneapolis has moved him to issue a mandatory refresher for officers in the Capital City.
Keith Mello, Chief of Police, President Connecticut Police Chiefs Association released the following statement:
We have all seen the videos from Minneapolis, where a man has lost his life during an encounter with the police, as well as the aftermath of those actions.
These images are beyond disturbing and cast a stain over the law enforcement profession and the dedicated men and women who strive to protect and serve their communities with honor. As Law
Enforcement Officers we recognize that the behavior in these videos reflect failures in police tactics, judgement and training.
Of equal concern is the lack of intervention by other officers on the scene. We are reminded that we are leaders in our communities, especially during a time of crisis. Our oath and our ethics require us to act whenever we are witnessing an unjust act, even by another police officer.
Unfortunately these actions in Minnesota erode the layers of trust, confidence and goodwill that so many of you have built within your communities, especially those who lead agencies in fragile communities.
Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, this is the foundation of our profession. Any violation of these core tenets is inexcusable.
‘Every day, Every Incident Matters’