Many Black people will tell you that any cop who would make light of police brutality is also capable of committing police brutality.
In February, The Root reported that LAPD officers were under investigation for passing around an insensitive and racist AF photo of George Floyd formatted like a Valentine’s Day card that read, “You take my breath away.” Last Friday, an officer being investigated behind the allegations was cleared of all wrongdoing after a panel of civilians determined that they only shared it to bring it to the attention of their superior.
KTLA 5 reports that the unidentified officer was given the option of having their case heard by a three-person panel of civilians, or a panel of one civilian and two fellow LAPD officers ranked captain or higher. The officer chose the former.
Leslie Wilcox, the officer’s attorney, said the officer only shared the Valentine to report it to his superior.
“The Board of Rights panel was absolutely correct in exonerating the officer based on the evidence of this case. The officer found the meme offensive, he did not create the meme, nor did he distribute it beyond notifying a commanding officer of its existence,” Wilcox said in a statement. “This decision shows that the Board of Rights process works and that the civilian panel is able to put aside political pressure and focus on the evidence in front of them in making objective decisions.”
Here’s the issue: The officer in question was identified as the person who initially shared the meme that prompted the investigation, but now a panel has determined that the officer wasn’t mocking Floyd’s death but was merely reporting the cops who had circulated it in the first place. So what of those cops?
It was previously reported that the LAPD launched an internal investigation into a complaint from one officer that other officers had circulated the photo. It’s unclear whether the officer who reported said complaint is the same one who was just found not guilty of violating department policy or if other involved officers are still being investigated.
According to CNN, the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in February that “If that image was created, ‘liked,’ or shared by a member of the LAPD, the Chief of Police must act swiftly to hold those individuals accountable,” but months later, all we know is that an officer who is said to have reported the photo to a superior officer out of disgust somehow wound up being a subject of an investigation to determine whether they should be terminated.
In fact, according to KTLA, Police Chief Michel Moore directed the officer to go before the Board of Rights panel in May with the recommendation that the officer be fired.
Why would an officer who was exposing wrongdoing even be investigated as the perpetrator for the wrongdoing?
Unfortunately, the LAPD’s statement on the matter did nothing to clear up the confusion.
“The employee who was directed to a board of rights for sharing the George Floyd meme was found Not Guilty,” the department said, CNN reports. “In this case, the facts and evidence were heard by a board that was comprised of civilian board members who are selected from the community.”
CNN also reports that “the LAPD would not specify what department policy the officer was found not guilty of violating, calling it an administrative internal investigation.”
Oh well—apparently, we’re back to just hoping that cops patrolling the streets of L.A. aren’t the same cops who think police brutality is a thing to laugh at. If the goal is to restore public trust in police, these kinds of non-transparent investigations aren’t helping.