Los Angeles, CA – The only member of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to face a trial board over a tasteless Valentine’s Day meme that circulated about George Floyd was found not guilty on Friday.
LAPD officials said in February that the department was investigating the circulation of the Floyd valentine that was reportedly shared between officers in the department.
The bright pink meme featured an image of Floyd and the caption “You take my breath away” in a Valentine format.
Floyd’s death in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020 sparked violent riots and looting across the United States, including in Los Angeles.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s murder on April 20.
The Floyd valentine meme was reported to the department by an officer who saw it and was offended by it, The Washington Post reported.
LAPD Chief Michel at the time said he was “disgusted by the post and directed that a Department complaint be generated,” according to an email by LAPD Harbor Patrol Division Captain Jay Mastick that was shared on social media.
The chief said the department would investigate exactly where and how the meme was generated – “online or otherwise” – and who may have been involved with its dissemination.
“I have no temperament or patience or allowance for them to remain in this organization,” he said in February.
In March, Chief Moore announced that internal affairs had identified the officer and investigators were in the process of interviewing him about the post, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Chief Moore said on March 9 that the officer shared the meme in a text message to another LAPD officer.
The police chief said the officer who shared it could be facing discipline for his actions, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“In my view that constitutes misconduct,” Chief Moore said.
The accused officer – who was actually an LAPD sergeant from the Air Support division – was tried in front of a panel of three hearing officers at a so-called “Board of Rights,” KNBC reported.
The board traditionally meets in private to consider allegations of misconduct against LAPD officers.
The accused sergeant opted to have his case heard by three non-police-officer panelists chosen by the L.A. Police Commission, in lieu of the traditional panel comprised of two LAPD commanding officers and one outside appointee, according to KNBC.
Attorney Leslie Wilcox, who represented the sergeant, said her client didn’t send the meme around.
Wilcox said he only sent it to a supervisor to complain about it, KNBC reported.
“The officer found the meme offensive, he did not create the meme, nor did he distribute it beyond notifying a commander officer of its existence,” she said in a statement.
“Both the commanding officer who received the officer’s communication, as well as the Assistant Chief who oversaw the investigation, agreed that the officer’s single notification of a commanding officer was in no way improper,” she told KNBC.
Wilcox said the trial board “was absolutely correct in exonerating the officer based on the evidence of this case.”
The panel found the sergeant not guilty after a hearing on July 2, KNBC reported.
As a result, the sergeant will not be disciplined in connection with the incident.