Area law enforcement leaders react to George Floyd death

Michael Tortorich
George Floyd is pictured in a collage of photos shared via social media.

Law enforcement officials around the Capital area have spoken out about the death of George Floyd.

A bystander’s video from May 25 shows a Minneapolis officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Floyd was handcuffed and face down on the ground while pleading with officers that he could not breathe.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting a federal civil rights investigation at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department. 

Demonstrations and protests broke out in the days following Floyd’s death, making headlines across the nation.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre, Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson, and Iberville Sheriff Brett Stassi have been among the officials to release statements.

“I want to be clear: I have seen the video of the final moments of George Floyd’s life and I condemned the actions of the Minneapolis police officers,” Sheriff Webre said.

Law enforcement must protect life and preserve constitutional rights by using policing methods that prioritize de-escalation and safety, he added.

“No one should be treated like this, most especially by law enforcement officers,” he continued. “We are to hold ourselves, and expect to be held by others, to the highest standards that befit the noble role of protecting and serving people.”

Chief Jackson said he has been outraged as both a police officer and black man.

"Every morning I wake up, and I put my uniform on. I do so with pride because I know that my job is to put humanity first," he said.

Chief Jackson went on to say he has a responsibility to “all men and all women, of all creeds and all colors, and from all walks of life.”

“Officers of the law cannot be above the law. They must be held accountable to uphold the law while maintaining a safe and secure environment for all,” he said.

Sheriff Stassi said he has not commented on national headlines in the past, but felt the Minneapolis death could not "go unaddressed."

He said such situations create a stereotype of all law enforcement.

"Sadly, it takes one officer to destroy the image of our profession and the trust we have worked so hard to build over the years in our parish," Stassi said.

He added that his job is to ensure deputies are policing under the rule of law and equal justice for everyone.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul also spoke out, calling the video "shocking to the conscious."

"No one deserves to be treated in such an inhumane way," he said.

Former LSU star quarterback Joe Burrow commented via Twitter.

“The black community needs our help,” the Heisman Trophy winner tweeted. “They have been unheard for far too long. Open your ears, listen, and speak. This isn’t politics. This is human rights.”