Law enforcement leaders in Aiken County said they condemn the actions by police officers involved in the arrest and death of George Floyd.
A widely circulated video taken by a bystander shows Floyd, a black man, on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back while Officer Derek Chauvin with the Minneapolis Police Department presses him to the pavement with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Police were called to a Minneapolis grocery store by an employee after Floyd allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Floyd can be heard in the video stating that he couldn't breathe as Chauvin continues to hold him down in the position for several minutes.
The video ends with paramedics lifting a limp Floyd onto a stretcher and placing him in an ambulance, according to the Associated Press.
He would later die in police custody.
The widely circulated video has sparked not only protests and conversations, but statements condemning the officer's actions from law enforcement agencies across the nation.
Local law enforcement leadership with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, the Aiken Department of Public Safety, North Augusta Department of Public Safety and the Salley Police Department all condemn the approach by officers involved in Floyd's arrest.
“I see nothing in this video that is right. There is nothing in this video that is taught in our police academy," Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt said. "Having your leg with all your weight down on a man’s neck for eight minutes should be condemned. It should be condemned by law enforcement and by the community equally.”
Aiken Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco shared similar thoughts on the situation.
"The actions in the George Floyd tragedy have never been, and will never be, acceptable for a law enforcement officer," Barranco said. "The men and women that I am lucky enough to work with at ADPS do not condone these actions and find them indefensible."
North Augusta Public Safety Chief John Thomas said, "From law enforcement's perspective, this is totally unacceptable. If this were to happen in North Augusta, it would not be tolerated. We do not train our officers to act like that. Period."
Salley Police Chief Jarrod Goldman, who is also running against Hunt for Aiken County sheriff, said the level of force shown in the video should never be used on a suspect already under control.
“There’s no law enforcement training that I know of that teaches an officer to put your knee or anything into a controlled suspect’s neck," Goldman said. "If there’s an issue where they are actively resisting and you have to fight for your life, too, you have to use equal force as well but when someone is already in handcuffs and are already under control and on the ground, then yeah, we’re going to condemn that. That’s not a level of force you use on a suspect that’s already under control."
Ryan Alphin, executive director of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers' Association, released a statement Thursday stating that cases like George Floyd's must not only be condemned by the community but also by law enforcement leadership.
“When something is right, defend it with all you have," Alphin said. "When something is wrong, condemn it equally. While a full investigation will occur, there is no law enforcement training that teaches officers to kneel on a controlled suspect's neck for minutes on end. Police officers should be held to the highest standard, and the many diverse officers I know across South Carolina want it no other way. Law enforcement is a noble profession tarnished by a small percentage of officers who are not dedicated to upholding the oath they took to serve and protect their communities. We are better when police and the community they serve work together.”
Tensions are still high in Minneapolis as violence continues to rock the area.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted for calm early Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
“Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy,” he said on Twitter. He also asked for the public’s help in keeping the peace.
Chauvin and three others were fired Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Frey called for Chauvin to be criminally charged.