Knoxville Leaders Condemn Actions of Minneapolis Police Officers

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
kfarley@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Knoxville Leaders Condemn Actions of Minneapolis Police Officers

Posted: 05/29/2020
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Police Chief Eve Thomas issued a joint statement today (May 29, 2020), condemning the actions of the Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd.

On Monday, Floyd died in police custody after repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe,” as an officer was kneeling on his neck. 

The City leaders state, “We are outraged by the brutal actions of the officers involved in the death of George Floyd. We condemn this egregious behavior and will work tirelessly to make sure nothing like this ever happens in our community.”

Mayor Kincannon went on to say, “I watched the video of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck continuously for at least 9 minutes, despite Mr. Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe, despite on-lookers begging the officers to let him breathe. It is completely horrifying. The Minneapolis police officers’ actions are unjustified and inhumane. My heart goes out to the Floyd family. We are all impacted by this senseless death.

“I understand that incidents like this undermine a community’s trust in those who are supposed to protect and serve them. They challenge all of us to acknowledge racism and work actively against it, at all levels of government and in all corners of our communities. While this happened hundreds of miles away, Chief Thomas and I are committed, here in Knoxville, to continue to take proactive measures to make sure officers are properly trained and understand this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

Chief Thomas echoed the Mayor’s statements and added, “I was deeply disturbed and appalled by the events that led to the death of George Floyd, and condemn the actions and inactions of the former Minneapolis police officers that resulted in this unimaginable and entirely avoidable tragedy. Those former officers have left an indelible stain on the badge of every officer who continues to work toward the betterment of their community every single day. The conduct exhibited is neither taught nor accepted in our profession, and it severely undermines the strides law enforcement agencies across the country have made to earn the trust of their communities.

“I commend the immediate action taken by Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to terminate those officers. Police officers have a foundational duty and responsibility to treat all individuals with dignity, decency and respect, and must be held accountable when they fail in that basic principle of public service. Behavior that does not represent the values of the profession or serve to improve the well-being of the community should never be tolerated.

“The Knoxville Police Department will continue to hold its officers to the highest ethical standard, provide the training necessary to ensure the best possible outcome in all scenarios, and work with the community to build and maintain a relationship of trust and mutual understanding.” 

Excessive use of force is illegal and entirely inconsistent with KPD’s mission to prevent crime and keep the peace.

Mayor Kincannon and Chief Thomas say officers will continue to be trained thoroughly in human relations, cultural diversity, ethics in policing and de-escalation tactics, both during the Recruit Academy and throughout their careers. 

Ongoing training is provided during regular in-service courses and daily squad roll calls as well as through the review, adjustment and enforcement of policies.              

The addition of body-worn cameras is another tool to help increase transparency and accountability. The money to implement and maintain the cameras was recently approved by City Council. Steps continue to be taken to get the cameras “on the street” as soon as possible.

Mayor Kincannon said, “Putting my support behind bodycams was one of my first major actions as Mayor, and I will continue to put public safety as the top priority of my administration. We hear the concerns of our community. Everyone in Knoxville, no matter their skin color, has a right to feel safe and to be treated fairly and humanely.”