Ohio civil rights attorney urges public to focus on justice, not chaos, following George Floyd’s death

Updated: May. 28, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The viral video is hard to watch: George Floyd handcuffed, face down on the ground, moaning and crying that he can’t breathe as a Minneapolis police officer presses his knee into Floyd’s neck.

Floyd would later die. It’s video that sparked outrage nationwide, and for the last three nights, has sparked protests not only in Minnesota, but Denver and even in Columbus, Ohio.

Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired, and the mayor of that city has called for the arresting officer to be criminally charged.

Cleveland Civil Rights Attorney Jared Klebanow tells 19 News the tale of the tape in this case is that it’s one of the worst cases of police brutality that he has ever seen.

Klebanow had this reaction when he first saw the video, “Tragic. That’s really the first thought that comes to mind. The individual was already in handcuffs and placed face down. There’s absolutely no reason for an officer to ever put their knee up on a suspect’s neck, especially once they have already been cuffed, and essentially detained. And shame on the other officers as well. There were a number of other officers who were on the scene watching this happen. It might be understandable that police officers try to stand together and back each other up, but there has to be training and there has to be an understanding that when an officer’s conduct is inappropriate and outright dangerous other officers need to step in and correct a wrong and in this case they could have save a life.”

Klebanow says it appears Minneapolis police officers definitely need more training, and it’s likely the case for officers around the country. He also says there are plenty of good, honest officers out there who need to publicly condemn this behavior and let others know it won’t be tolerated, because policing comes with a great responsibility.

"It hurts those police officers who are trying to better those relations and are trying to do better with the community. So in this instance it’s very important. Very important for our police officers to come forward and condemn this conduct. To say this in not right and this is something every department needs to learn from,” Klebanow said.

Klebanow says people have every right to be angry, upset and scared from what they’ve seen in the Floyd case so far. And while it’s natural to want to peacefully protest for change, causing damage to property, or any type of violence is not the message to send.

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