Elizabeth City Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe issued a rare public statement Thursday supporting the terminations of four Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of a black man.
“The untimely death of Mr. George Floyd of Minnesota is deeply disturbing to me as a police executive,” Buffaloe said.
Floyd, 46, was arrested Monday on suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill, according to the Associated Press. He subsequently died Monday night while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
The four police officers involved in his arrest were swiftly fired Tuesday, after video surfaced showing one of the officers, who is white, kneeling on Floyd’s neck. In the video, which is several minutes long, Floyd is seen chest down on the ground and is heard telling the officer kneeling on him that he can’t breathe.
The officer seen in the video kneeling on Floyd’s neck has since been identified as Derek Chauvin, the AP reported.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has said he believes Chauvin should be charged in the death of Floyd.
Floyd’s death has sparked several days of protests and riots in Minneapolis. Protesters have been seen carrying signs that read, “I can’t breathe” and Jail killer KKKops,” the AP reported.
On Thursday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called in the National Guard to respond as more rioting in Minneapolis was expected and looting broke out in nearby St. Paul.
The Elizabeth City Police Department “fully supports” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo in his swift terminations of the four officers involved, Buffaloe said in his statement.
“The actions of the officers involved are without merit and justification and displayed a lack of compassion and empathy for the life of Mr. George Floyd,” he said.
Elizabeth City police officers work tirelessly to improve relationships with the community, Buffaloe said, adding the behavior of the four Minneapolis officers harms that relationship.
“This is yet another incident where unacceptable police behavior has ruptured the fabric of public trust by law enforcement actions,” the chief said.
Law enforcement officers must adhere to a “standard of fair treatment, dignity and respect” toward others in the course of their work, Buffaloe said.
Buffaloe also said he is encouraged with how quickly the FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension opened an investigation of the incident.
“Any lack of transparency and accountability will continue to erode community trust and further raise suspicion and resentment,” he said. “In order to restore legitimacy, we must hold officers accountable at all times for their actions when they deviate from that standard.”