Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison on Friday called George Floyd’s death after being pinned by Minneapolis police “deeply horrific and heartbreaking."
Harrison is the latest law enforcement official across the country to condemn officers’ actions that were captured on video before Floyd’s death, and have prompted widespread protests and rioting in Minneapolis and several other U.S. cities this week. In the video, an officer appears to pin Floyd’s neck under his knee for several minutes as Floyd says, “I can’t breathe.” Floyd later died.
“What we saw in the video was disgusting and shocking to the conscience. This does not represent the calling of our officers to serve and protect with dignity and respect,” Harrison said.
Harrison said Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo’s decision to fire the four officers involved was "absolutely necessary."
“The death of George Floyd has shaken America to its core. This cannot be what the policing profession stands for. We can and we must ensure that all officers intervene in the bad actions of others so that we prevent incidents like this from happening,” he said.
Harrison came from the New Orleans Police Department to Baltimore in 2019 to reform Baltimore’s department that was still reeling from the fallout of the 2015 unrest following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Six officers were later charged in connection with his death and arrest, but none were convicted.
Harrison said he is intent on reforming the Baltimore Police Department, which remains under a federal consent decree following a U.S. Justice Department investigation following Gray’s death. Much of the reforms required under the consent decree are focused on improving the department’s relationship with the community.
“The Baltimore Police Department remains committed to rebuilding and earning the trust of the communities we serve through fair, equitable, and dignified treatment of all in our fight for justice,” Harrison said.