The Los Angeles Police Department has launched an internal investigation after an officer reported that a Valentine-like image was circulating throughout the department, which included a photo of George Floyd alongside the words “You take my breath away.” The complaint alleged that the image was created by LAPD personnel.
“At this point the Department has not identified any actual postings in the workplace or identified that it was in fact our department employee who created the image,” the LAPD tweeted on Saturday. “We have raised the apparent existence of the image and directed commands to survey the worksites for it.”
LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Times that the department is looking into two Instagram accounts with possible connections to officers as part of the probe, one of which is called “Blue Line Mafia.” The department said it would interview the officer who brought the complaint on Monday.
“Our investigation is to determine the accuracy of the allegations while also reinforcing our zero tolerance for anything with racist views,” Moore told the Times. “People will find my wrath,” he said, if it turns out that the image originated from within his ranks.
Floyd was killed in May by Minneapolis police officers who kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. His last words were “I can’t breathe,” which he repeated more than 20 times. His official cause of death was asphyxiation.
Should an officer be found to be responsible for the Floyd image, they would only be the latest in a string of police officers to get in trouble for mocking Black men killed by police. In June, a New Jersey corrections officer was suspended after re-enacting Floyd’s death at an anti-Black Lives Matter demonstration, kneeling on the neck of another protester. That same month an Oregon police officer was put on leave after he made fun of Floyd for crying out “I can’t breathe” with friends at a local bar. In July, three officers were fired for imitating the chokehold that killed Elijah McClain in a selfie.
Everything alleged here is exactly the sort of thing that only makes calls to defund police departments seem all the more reasonable.