(STL.News) – In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, our country is now dealing with the traumatic aftermath of the brutal killing of George Floyd. That fatal encounter with police in Minneapolis was a horrifying incident that understandably caused outrage, sadness and pain. An untold number of people across the United States have taken to the streets to engage in peaceful protests, demand justice for Mr. Floyd and others who have died violently at the hands of law enforcement, and call for systemic change. As the U.S. Attorney sworn to uphold the constitutional rights of all 20 million residents of this district, I fully support the First Amendment rights of protestors to express these sentiments peacefully.
As we mourn with Mr. Floyd’s family and look forward to the day when justice is done, we send words of encouragement to the local Minnesota prosecutors who are pursuing the case and to our Justice Department colleagues investigating potential violations of federal civil rights law.
The killing of Mr. Floyd has brought to the fore painful memories of mistreatment, recent and historical, of the African American community by law enforcement and others. These memories are especially raw in Los Angeles, which has a very difficult history of police-community tensions that have erupted into violence.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles has a long and proud history of fighting to protect civil rights and of aggressively pursuing allegations of misconduct by law enforcement. Over the years, we have convicted a string of corrupt law enforcement officials, including those who engaged in excessive force. This office played the lead role in the convictions of police officers who beat Rodney King. We convicted former Orange County Sheriff Mike Corona on corruption charges. We convicted 22 members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, including Sheriff Lee Baca, who engaged in civil rights abuses or obstruction of justice. We continue to enforce a consent decree that has led to significant reforms at the L.A. County jails. And we are working with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to implement reforms to its policing of the Antelope Valley.
We will never shy away from confronting crimes committed by law enforcement officers. These are among the most difficult cases to prosecute, but we bring these important cases in pursuit of justice for the victims and to send a clear message that police misconduct and civil rights violations cannot be tolerated in a society based on laws.
As United States Attorney, it is my job to ensure that federal laws are enforced without fear or favor, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator. That includes cases against law enforcement officers who violate the trust we place in them, as there is no greater betrayal of that trust than when a citizen is killed by the unlawful actions of those sworn to protect and serve. Being a police officer is one of the most difficult jobs in America. It requires dedication to duty, courage and self-sacrifice. The few who cross the line tarnish the badge for the overwhelming majority of good and decent officers who work tirelessly to protect us.
The United States Attorney’s Office will continue its mission of protecting the public from violence and lawlessness. In doing so, we remain steadfast in our commitment to assisting our law enforcement partners to adopt and employ best policing practices, and to working with our community partners for the fair administration of justice. Together, we must use this moment to reaffirm our guiding principles and ensure equal justice for all.