Tampa Bay’s top law officers respond to George Floyd’s death

Local News

A chain portrait of George Floyd is part of the memorial for him, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, near the site of the arrest of Floyd who died in police custody Monday night in Minneapolis after video shared online by a bystander showed a white officer kneeling on his neck during his arrest as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Law enforcement across Tampa Bay are addressing a video out of Minneapolis showing a police officer kneeling on a black man’s neck during an arrest. The man, 46-year-old George Floyd, later died.

Below are the statements from local police chiefs, sheriff’s and law enforcement agencies regarding the video and death of Floyd.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan

“It just kind of took the air out of me to look at other officers stand there and not provide assistance or be engaged… I still don’t have enough facts but I know what I see just like everybody else. And it’s – to say disappointed, deflated, there is no word for it. It’s an understatement.

… It’s very important to me that people trust me. As the chief of police, you have several roles. Your job is to police the police and police the community. The citizens, Mayor Castor, they are relying on me to be the watchdog of the police too. The officers know that I have their back but they also know I will hold them accountable.”

Click here for more from Chief Dugan.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri

“The Minneapolis police officers’ actions in the killing of George Floyd are WRONG and there must be accountability. The officer used deadly force in a situation where there was no justification based on the video we have all seen. The other officers present should have acted and intervened to stop the officer who had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

Please know these actions are not representative of the majority of law enforcement officers in this country or here in Pinellas County. Let the system work and justice will be served.”

St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway

“I’ve seen enough of it. I don’t want to see any more. I don’t want to watch a man die any more… What I want to do is start to watch a community heal.”

Click here for more from Chief Holloway.

North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison

“I have seen the video highlighted on media outlets concerning the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd. My initial reaction is that the incident is very disturbing. I believe everyone should be treated with dignity, respect, and humanity. From my limited view this was not exhibited by these police officers.

The particular move to place a knee on the neck of someone in custody is something I have never been a part of in my nearly 30 year law enforcement career. It is not something practiced here at the North Port Police Department. I’m confident that as more details are released, we can all learn from this unfortunate and sad situation.

I agree with the Minnesota Police Chief Madaria Arradondo’s quick decisive action in terminating these 4 police officers. As with any major incident, a thorough investigation is underway in Minnesota and I am confident in the system and believe justice will be served.

The men and women of the North Port Police Department work extremely hard in forming partnerships and bonds with our community to increase the trust and transparency of our profession. I am saddened by the fact that this incident will tarnish the badge that are so proudly worn by the members of our police department.”

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd

“Based on what I can see, that police officer here would have been locked up and jailed before the sun went down.”

Click here from more from Sheriff Judd.

Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia

“Any in-custody death is of grave concern to the police profession. Such tragic events must be analyzed and learned from. A police officer’s very first priority is to protect life, everyone’s life. The officers of the Lakeland Police Department undergo many hours of training in verbal and physical skill sets throughout their careers to safely, as possible, take a person into custody. When officers act outside the scope of their training and the laws governing their conduct, we must hold those officers accountable while remaining transparent to the citizens we serve.”

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight

“I stand with the 66 other Florida sheriff’s offices who find the actions leading to George Floyd’s death inexcusable. Like many law enforcement leaders and experts around the nation today, I am appalled at the actions of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin as well as the actions of the officers who stood idly by while a man unjustly lost his life.

While I have seen a positive evolution of police culture in my 30+ years in the profession, I am saddened there are still law enforcement organizations that have not modernized and changed their culture to meet the expectations of the communities they serve. I remind our citizens that there are thousands of law enforcement organizations in the U.S. and not all are alike. However, when events such as the one in Minneapolis take place, it reflects on our entire profession.

That being said, I strongly believe the citizens of our community can sort bad from good, right from wrong – and that they can condemn the actions of a few while still being supportive of their local law enforcement agencies and the well-intentioned, dedicated men and women who comprise them.”

Venice Police Department

“The Venice Police Department is devastated by the tragic loss of George Floyd’s life and the unfathomable actions of the Minneapolis Police Officers. The egregious act and excessive force are not condoned and in no way reflect the dedicated individuals of the Venice Police Department. The actions of these officers are not lawful or acceptable in our society. The events which led to George Floyd’s untimely death are intolerable and must be met with swift action for justice as afforded by the Constitution of the United States for all citizens.

The Venice Police Department’s motto is “Our Citizens, Our Community, Our Commitment”. We will continue to monitor this situation as we strive to best serve our community through professional services and transparency.”

News Channel 8 will continue to update this story as more statements are issued.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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