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San Diego sheriff’s deputy disciplined over ‘vulgar image’ of George Floyd

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has launched an internal affairs investigation after a deputy was accused of sharing what was described as a “vulgar image” — one the local NAACP branch says was an altered picture of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

The employee was removed from his official duties and placed on a “paid administrative assignment” within hours after officials learned of the incident, the department said. The employee does not have peace officer authority while the investigation is underway.

The NAACP San Diego’s president issued a statement Monday calling for the dismissal — not just reassignment — of the employee, a deputy she said had emailed the altered image of Floyd, who died after the police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.

In the image, the police officer is replaced with “a naked black male porn star kneeling on Mr. Floyd,” with the words “Quit resisting” added, according to the statement from branch President Francine Maxwell.

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“The image was lewd and racist and vile and should disturb anyone with a shred of human decency,” the statement reads.

Maxwell said in an interview Monday that it was “very, very disheartening that somebody that has all that power decided to waste their time to share something they thought as humorous, but was not.”

The department confirmed Monday that on June 18, it learned of “an incident involving one of its employees” and placed that person on paid administrative assignment.

“We were so disgusted that an employee may have shared such a vulgar image that within minutes we began to take action,” the department said in a statement.

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The department did not clarify what the image was, nor did it provide the name of the employee.

“We want to assure the public we took the matter very seriously and acted swiftly to put a stop to it,” the statement reads. “We understand the public concern and want to reiterate that we want to bring the matter to a just conclusion as soon as possible.”

Department representatives declined further comment, saying the matter was still under “active investigation.”

Maxwell said she issued her statement Monday after receiving an anonymous package asking her to look deeper into the matter, which first came to public attention in a television news report in mid-June. She said she wants to the see the deputy fired.

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“Removing someone’s powers and reassigning them but they are still getting the full paycheck — that is not signaling to the community that, ‘We hear you, we are listening to you, doing something action oriented,’” Maxwell said.

She added: “Reassigning someone is not signaling change. That is signaling business as usual.”

The May 25 death of Floyd, who was Black, under the knee of a white police officer sparked national outrage and prompted protests decrying racial injustice and bias in policing, and demanding change.

Figueroa writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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