WASHINGTON — Protests have erupted nationwide after a bystander video showed the death of a handcuffed man while in police custody. George Floyd, 46, was killed Monday, after a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him to the ground by his neck, cutting off his ability to breathe. Floyd, unarmed, died shortly thereafter.
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham joined Mayor Muriel Bowser for a press conference Saturday to discuss the District's response to citywide protests Friday night. Newsham addressed his own reactions to watching the video of Floyd's death.
"When I watched the full-length video, the only word that comes to mind is sickening," Newsham said. "We played that video in our command briefing Thursday so that all my command officials and I could discuss how appalled we were by that behavior, by those officers. Oftentimes when you have a snippet of video it doesn't tell the whole story. I think in this instance that 10-minute clip, there is only one explanation for that behavior, and that was a complete disregard for human life."
Newsham continued, discussing the ramifications of the behavior seen in Minneapolis for all law enforcement moving forward.
"This behavior will be attributed to everybody who wears this uniform," Newsham said. "It's our responsibility to show, as we do every day, that we are not the type of police officers who would ever, ever be involved in that type of behavior. That will require additional patience, empathy, and professionalism by every person that works in this police department."
Chauvin was fired, along with three other officers, and has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. When asked his thoughts on the charges, Newsham was clear.
"My sense, from watching that video," Newsham said, "that is nothing less than murder."