ATLANTA - Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields posted a strongly-worded video to the department's Facebook page about the death of George Floyd on Monday while in the custody of a now-former Minneapolis police officer.
"This never should have happened," Chief Shields said in the video. “I am aware there is a huge amount of hurt, anger, and fear over Mr. Floyd's murder; rightly so.”
Floyd was in his car Monday when officers approached, allegedly believing he was a suspect in a forgery case. Floyd was ordered from the vehicle, physically restrained, and handcuffed before being pinned to the ground by an officer, keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck. This happened all happened as a bystander recorded the incident on their phone.
“What I can state to you today, however, is my colleagues and I are appalled at what has occurred to George Floyd. We fully expect for the officers to serve prison time, they earned it,” Chief Shields said in the video.
In the bystander’s video, Floyd repeatedly tells the officers he cannot breathe, but the officers remain unphased. The 46-year-old man eventually loses consciousness and was taken to the hospital where he died.
“How disconnected does law enforcement have to be suffocated by a cop in broad daylight knowing the cameras are rolling with fellow officers standing around watching? There's not an answer to this. Because it's not reasonable in any sense of the word,” Chief Shields said. “The officers didn't just fail as cops, they fundamentally failed as human beings.”
Chief Shields, who has been with APD since 1995, can speak as an expert to the duties of an officer. She has held a position in nearly every division inside the department with her overseeing the APD training academy for three years prior to her rise as chief in 2016.
In her video posted Thursday evening, she went on to explain how many things can be taught to officers, but “human decency is not one of them.”
She also spoke of the diversity of the department as being a strength, but in that diversity “sometimes the worst parts of society end up on our payroll.”
"Are we perfect at APD? No, not by a large margin. Our agency has had its share of dark history," the chief admitted but did touch on a few of the ways her department is giving oversight in the field and the on-going discussions the city's law enforcement officials have.