Georgetown Co. sheriff issues statement on death of George Floyd

Georgetown Co. sheriff issues statement on death of George Floyd
Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver released a statement Friday on the death of George Floyd. (Source: Facebook)

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC) - The sheriff of Georgetown County released a statement on the death of a man who died in Minneapolis while in police custody.

“I will not sit back and remain silent,” Sheriff Carter Weaver said in a statement released Friday.

Weaver released the statement in response to the death of George Floyd, who was seen in a video pleading for air while he was handcuffed as a white police officer kneeled on his neck on Monday. As minutes pass, Floyd slowly stops talking and moving.

His death touched off days of protests in Minneapolis and other cities across the nation.

Weaver’s statement continued:

Police officers are trained to use only the force ‘necessary’ to institute an arrest. A reasonableness standard is or should be applied to judge what the level of ‘necessary’ is when any force is used by police. It is not reasonable for a police officer to use his body weight to place pressure on someone’s neck for minutes on end, especially when the individual is clearly detained and any threat to himself or others is not present.

The George Floyd incident brings other questions into play also. What was the probable cause for the arrest? Courts usually find probable cause when there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed (for an arrest) or when evidence of the crime is present in the place to be searched (for a search). I do not know what the probable cause for the arrest of George Floyd was and hopefully we will all know soon. Will it make a difference? No, because his arrest is not the problem, the use of force by police is.

Police agencies throughout this country use probable cause every day in the performance of their duties. It is the foundation of our justice system and a standard that police build upon to solve cases and bring law violators to justice. It allows for immediate, warrantless detaining and detention -- often based on statement or video evidence.

This standard should be used against the arresting officers in this case, especially the officer who unreasonably cuts off the air intake from George Floyd during his arrest. The probable cause is present and any notion otherwise further erodes the criminal justice system and tarnishes a service that so many of us work to protect. Any further delay is unnecessary and insulting to the hard working police professionals throughout my office and this country.

Weaver is the latest South Carolina law enforcement officer to release a statement on the death of Floyd.

Ryan Alphin, the executive director of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers’ Association and South Carolina Police Chiefs’ Association, issued a statement Thursday saying police officers should be held to the highest standard, adding the “many diverse officers” he knows across the state “want it no other way.”

“When something is right, defend it with all you have. When something is wrong, condemn it equally," Alphin said. “Cases like George Floyd must not only be condemned by the community but also by law enforcement leadership. While a full investigation will occur, there is no law enforcement training that teaches officers to kneel on a controlled suspects neck for minutes on end.”

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott called the officers’ actions “inexcusable.”

“There is absolutely no place for that kind of behavior by or from any law enforcement officer,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham also spoke about Floyd’s death, calling it a “stain on law enforcement.”

“Justice for Mr. Floyd would be achieved in a court of law, will be achieved with social change, when we turn the corner on police violence toward minority communities and members,” Graham said. “Justice for Mr. Floyd will not be achieved by burning somebody’s business down and taking violent reaction. I’m looking for justice, not revenge.”

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