A police officer in Sterling Heights, Michigan has been placed on unpaid leave after posting a racist meme on social media poking fun at George Floyd’s death. Local outlet 7 Action News initially discovered the offensive Facebook post, which sparked an internal investigation.
According to reports, the unidentified officer shared the image this week. The post reportedly included a picture of ex-officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck with a caption that read: “When you gotta change a tire but don’t wanna get your trousers dirty.”
“If we’re not policing our own guys, I don’t blame any resident for not trusting a police officer when they get pulled over or arrested,” the chief said. “As a police officer, when you post something it carries tremendous weight. That’s why we have a policy that says you can’t post anything inflammatory against a religion, race [or] gender. Nothing like that. It’s all prohibited.”
Retired Michigan State Police inspector and National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives board member Ellis Stafford said the post is an indicator of racial bias in the officer’s policing.
“When you have officers like this that do damage to the industry… you really need to question as a chief, do I really want this person as part of my department and should they be in the industry?” Stafford said.
The City of Sterling Heights also released a statement in response to the officer’s actions.
“The City of Sterling Heights disavows the abhorrent imagery and messaging that appeared in the post. Immediate action was taken by the Police Chief upon learning of it, including placing the officer on unpaid administrative leave and initiating an internal disciplinary investigation,” it read.
“The Police Department is committed to completing the investigation and disciplinary process as quickly as possible. It must be clear that there is no place for hateful and offensive content like that within our community. It does a grave disservice to the City, the dedicated men and women of the Police Department who protect and serve each and every Sterling Heights resident and business and all those who call it home.”
“We remain committed to building and ensuring a tolerant and accepting city that is inclusive and safe for all,” it concluded.