Rivera Responds to Police Videos in Minneapolis, Buffalo

"I don't know of any training that would recommend that"

Tom Puckett
May 28, 2020 - 4:00 am
Minneapolis protester

A protester holds a sign while demonstrating against the death of George Floyd outside the 3rd Precinct Police Precinct on May 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN)  The death of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died on Memorial Day after an officer knelt on his neck until he became unresponsive, has led to deadly violence in the twin cities and outrage is now reverberating nationwide.

After the highly troubling and controversial police video in Minneapolis, and another recent incident involving a Buffalo Police Officer, a Buffalo common councilmember who once served as a police officer is taking a close look.

First, in Buffalo, Councilman David Rivera, who serves on the council's police oversight committee, says he's looked at the controversial recent use of force by a Buffalo Police officer in making an arrest, but is not ready to pass judgment.

"I saw a gentleman down and one police officer striking him in the face, as he was moving underneath the car. I don't know what led up to that point or what happened afterwards," says Rivera. "My understanding is the police officer was wearing a body cam and there is additional video, and I'm not privy to it. I can tell you they're making a copy to the district attorney's office." 

Rivera has also taken a look at the controversial video of a Minneapolis Police officer who put his knee on the neck of George Floyd, who later died.

"I'm shocked, alarmed, to see someone kneeling on someone's neck," says Rivera. "I don't know of any training that would recommend that."

Rivera adds the firing tells him something. "It tells me they weren't performing according to the manual procedures on how to use physical force. It's unfortunate that had to happen." Rivera says an officer is to use enough force to subdue a suspect, and the officer cannot use excessive force. "Once a person is subdued, there's no need to use physical force. That's at least the way I was trained at the police academy in 1982," notes Rivera.

Rivera says it would be wise of Mayor Brown and Buffalo Police to take up the WNY Peace Center on a speakout on ethical peace officers.

"We've been open to suggestions and ideas on training," says Rivera, who heads the police oversight committee. "Many times the ideas they come up with are good ones. They're the ones who proposed the bodycamears and de-escalation trainng,' says Rivera. He adds professional experts can offer suggestions as well. Rivera does anticipate police not talking about the latest videos but should listen to ideas to raise the professionalism of the BPD. 

Meanwhile, The mayor of Minneapolis called Wednesday for criminal charges against the white police officer seen in the video.

Based on the video, Mayor Jacob Frey said officer Derek Chauvin should be charged in the death of George Floyd. The footage recorded by a bystander shows Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd gasps for breath on the ground with his face against the pavement. The officer does not move for at least eight minutes, even after Floyd stops speaking and moving.

“I've wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” said Frey, who is white.

He later added: "I saw no threat. I saw nothing that would signal that this kind of force was necessary.”

The day after Floyd died, Chauvin and three other officers were fired — an act that did not stem the flood of anger that followed the widely seen video shot on Memorial Day outside a convenience store.

 

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