West Chester Mayor and Police Chief Statement on the Tragic Death of George Floyd

West Chester Mayor and Police Chief Statement on the Tragic Death of George Floyd

WEST CHESTER, PA — West Chester’s Mayor Dianne Herrin and Chief of Police James Morehead released the following statement on the tragic death of George Floyd:

“Upon watching the video of George Floyd’s arrest and death, we find this incident unconscionable. We want to express our heartfelt support for Mr. Floyd’s loved ones and friends.

“We acknowledge the pain this incident evokes among people of color, and the sadness it creates among all members of our community who understand this incident as an appalling example of a deep and structural inequity in our society at large.

“Here in the West Chester Police Department, we want to assure our community that we are aggressively building on the tremendous progress this Department has made over the past decades to ensure every officer adheres to his or her sworn oath of office, which follows:

I do solemnly declare and affirm, that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States, and of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and that I will uphold, obey and enforce the law without consideration to a person’s race, color, sex, religious creed, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, handicap or disability; and that I will execute the duties of my office of the Borough of West Chester, Pennsylvania, with fidelity.

“Every officer in our Department undergoes the most up-to-date training in implicit and overt bias, appropriate use-of-force, modern de-escalation techniques, cultural diversity, and fair and impartial policing.

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“Additionally, we have put an emphasis on controlled tactics training, so when officers are faced with individuals who refuse arrest, the officer knows what measures are appropriate and effective without increasing risk of injury.

“This year, we required every officer to wear and use body-worn cameras. Our Department is also working to seek accreditation, which ensures our policies will continue to reflect the most modern and progressive 21st-century policing practices, and promotes community trust and accountability within our Department.

“The West Chester Police Department will uphold and enforce discipline, strict professional standards, and a transparent citizen complaint process. We recognize it is our moral and professional duty to reflect the values of our community, and we are proud to uphold this obligation.”

Death of George Floyd

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The death of George Floyd, an African-American man, occurred in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020. Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds; 2 minutes and 53 seconds occurred following Floyd became unresponsive, according to the criminal complaint filed against Chauvin.

Floyd was handcuffed while lying face down on the road and Chauvin had his knee on his neck. Officers Thomas K. Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng participated in Floyd’s arrest, with Kueng holding Floyd’s back, Lane holding his legs, and Thao looking on as he stood nearby.

A video recording by a witness, showing Floyd repeatedly pleading “Please”, “I can’t breathe”, and “Don’t kill me”, was widely circulated on social media and broadcast media. All four officers were fired the next day.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is conducting a federal civil rights investigation into the incident and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating possible violations of Minnesota statutes.

On May 29, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for Floyd’s death, with Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman saying he anticipated charges to be brought against the other three officers at the scene of Floyd’s death.

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