The only LAPD officer formally accused of violating Department policy by allegedly circulating around Valentine's Day a social media meme that ridiculed the killing of George was found not guilty by an administrative trial board.
The decision means the officer, a sergeant who works at the LAPD’s air support division, will not face termination, suspension, or other discipline, as was suggested would happen by Chief Michel Moore when word of the meme investigation became public earlier this year.
The LAPD confirmed the not guilty finding Tuesday.
The sergeant’s defense attorney said the decision, “was absolutely correct in exonerating the officer based on the evidence of this case.”
Attorney Leslie Wilcox said the accused officer never sent the image to other officers, rather, he sent it to a supervisor in order to make a complaint.
“The officer found the meme offensive, he did not create the meme, nor did he distribute it beyond notifying a commander officer of its existence,” she told NBC LA in a statement.
“Both the commanding officer who received the officer’s communication, as well as the Assistant Chief who oversaw the investigation, agreed that the officer’s single notification of a commanding officer was in no way improper,” she said.
The meme showed a photograph of George Floyd’s face and included the text, “you take my breath away,” police said.
The not guilty decision was made Friday by a panel of three hearing officers at a so-called, “Board of Rights,” which is an internal trial board that meets, nearly always in private with no outside observers, to consider allegations of misconduct leveled against LAPD officers.
In this case the accused sergeant opted to have the case heard by three non-police-officer panelists selected by the L.A. Police Commission, instead of the traditional board of rights panel comprised of two commanding officers and one outside appointee.
When the meme investigation became public just after Valentine’s Day LAPD Chief Michel Moore suggested in an interview that any officers involved could face termination.
“I have no temperament or patience or allowance for them to remain in this organization,” Moore told reporters February 16, before any employees or officers were formally accused of violating policy by distributing the image.
When the meme first became public the officers’ union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said in a statement the image was, “abhorrent,” and said whoever was responsible should be held accountable.
The League has not commented on the board of rights decision.