San Francisco’s police chief on Friday became the latest top cop from around the nation to denounce the killing of a black man who died after an officer knelt on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis.
Chief Bill Scott, head of the San Francisco Police Department, issued a statement calling the death of George Floyd on Monday “extremely disturbing” after viewing widely shared video of the encounter.
“What I and everyone else saw on the video images of this incident is flat wrong and not consistent with the respect for the sanctity of human life that all men and women who are sworn peace officers have a duty to uphold,” Scott said.
Scott applauded the decision by Minneapolis Chief Medaria Arradondo to fire the four officers involved. He said the incident plays into the “policing disparities that have occurred for generations — and continue to occur — in regard to using force on people of color.”
“Those of us who have chosen policing as a profession all have a responsibility to make the difficult and courageous decisions necessary to change this narrative for the better,” Scott said in the statement.
Scott released his statement before the announcement that one of the fired officers, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder Friday as civil unrest unfolded nationwide. The chief stopped short of calling for the officers involved to be charged.
Scott joined the ranks of police chiefs in cities like Oakland and San Jose and in states like Georgia and Tennessee who have condemned the death.
“What I saw happen to George Floyd disturbed me and is not consistent with the goal of our mission,” San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia tweeted Wednesday. “The act of one, impacts us all.”
Even the San Francisco Police Officers Association, which is known for its law-and-order positions on policing, released a statement alongside the police unions in Oakland and San Jose calling the incident a failure.
“What we saw on that video was inconsistent and contrary to everything we have been taught, not just as an academy recruit or a police officer, but as human beings,” the statement reads. “Reverence for life in every incident a police officer encounters must be the floor and not the ceiling.”
The unions argued that the use of force could not be justified and said the video should not represent law enforcement as a whole.
“We cannot see any law enforcement or self-defense rationale for what occurred,” the statement reads. “We are equally disturbed by not seeing any of the other officers on scene intervene to prevent this tragedy.”