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‘You take my breath away’: A George Floyd-themed ‘Valentine’ prompts investigation at LAPD

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore speaks at a vigil with members of professional associations and the interfaith community at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on June 5. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the circulation of a photo depicting George Floyd, who was killed in the hands of Minneapolis police officers last year, with the words, “You take my breath away,” law enforcement officials said Saturday.

The incident was reported by an officer who made an internal complaint about an image of Floyd styled in a “Valentine-format” being “passed around” by officers, according to an internal memo signed by Capt. Jay Mastick posted on Twitter Saturday and later confirmed by Chief Michel Moore.

Moore said that the officer who made the complaint will be interviewed on Monday and that the department is determined to find out exactly where and how the image was generated, “online or otherwise” and who may have been involved.

“Our investigation is to determine the accuracy of the allegations while also reinforcing our zero tolerance for anything with racist views,” the chief told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.

If the department confirms that officers were circulating the image, “people will find my wrath,” Moore said.

Moore instructed “that supervision reinforce the need for professionalism on our online behavior” and said that messages with “inappropriate” content may result in discipline, according to the memo.

On Saturday night, the department said in a Twitter post that it had not yet identified “any postings in the workplace” or identified that it was an LAPD employee who created the image, but added that it has “directed commands to survey the worksites for it.”

The LAPD did not immediately respond to a Washington Post request for comment.

Floyd was killed on May 25 after he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for over nine minutes, after he repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”

The county medical examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, saying he died of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” And an independent autopsy determined that he died of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure,” after being pinned down by his neck and back.

The death of George Floyd: What video and other records show about his final minutes

Floyd’s death sparked a wave of outrage, unrest and protests in more than 100 cities nationwide, including Los Angeles, and led to a nationwide reckoning over racial injustice and systematic police brutality, prompting police departments across the country to address the issue and ensure more accountability for their forces.

Widespread protests in Los Angeles prompted a massive police response that included the controversial use of foam bullets and numerous arrests of peaceful protesters.

Minneapolis is anticipating unrest and protests as the city prepares for Chauvin’s trial and jury selection, set to begin March 8, with members of the National Guard set to be deployed to downtown Minneapolis and across the city.

Chauvin, 44, has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and will be tried separately from the three other former officers charged in Floyd’s death.