City, county law enforcement officials respond to Floyd murder, protests

This week, the chief law enforcement officials in Cascade County have responded to the death of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.

During the June 2 City Commission meeting, Great Falls Police Chief Dave Bowen said that it’s “difficult to find the right words to say,” regarding Floyd’s death and the nationwide protests.

“I, first, want to say thank you to the citizens of this community,” Bowen said, for the local protest that was held peacefully and in a manner that people were able to have their voices heard.

“It was done in a way that I hope sets an example,” Bowen said.

On the actions of Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis police officer, who has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin is seen in video of the incident kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner released an autopsy report on June 2 and ruled that Floyd’s death was a homicide, according to an NPR report.

Bowen said Chauvin’s actions were “deplorable and he will be held accountable.”

He asked that the actions of one don’t reflect on the many. The majority of law enforcement officers, Bowen said, serve with integrity.

“It’s an honor to be a police officer and serve this community,” Bowen said.

He said that as the community and nation work through this, that it can be done peacefully.

So far in Great Falls, there have been some incidents of graffiti and some “nasty notes” send to police, according to city officials, and one downtown business owner posted on social media about threats to her business earlier this week, but no incidents had occurred.

“By and large, Great Falls has been different than most,” Bowen said, and that he was grateful.

On June 2, Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter posted to the department’s Facebook page that he was shocked by Floyd’s murder.

“I’m not going to lie; I was in denial about what had happened. Not because I believe that law enforcement is perfect. I have seen law enforcement abuse their power in my career. I’m deeply saddened by what I saw, my childhood heroes with all with the power to do good, failed to act,” Slaughter wrote. “The lack of courage and compassion is sickening to watch, I barely have the words to describe what I saw.”

What bothered him most, he wrote, was that no one came to Floyd’s aid.

“The bystanders had to watch helplessly because the police would not allow them to help. Three other police officers could have helped but none of them had the courage to do so,” Slaughter wrote. “This is my emotional reaction to what happened to George Floyd and my childhood heroes. A man died an unspeakable death and the only people who could have made a difference lacked the courage to do the right thing. I understand the nation’s emotional reaction to this horrible incident. The citizens, our boss, have every right to exert their redress against our profession. I would just ask for George Floyd’s sake you do it peacefully and make sure it’s about making our society better and not more violent. To my childhood heroes and my chosen profession, we need to learn from this incident and be the leaders we have always said we would be. See, this incident happened because of a lack of leadership. The police officers who were there failed to lead. As your Sheriff, I hear you and I understand your disapproval of how this incident occurred. I can only say that I do not agree nor condone the actions of these police officers.”