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Devon and Cornwall police officer investigated over George Floyd meme

The Guardian logo The Guardian 22/06/2020 Vikram Dodd Police and crime coreespondent
a man in a yellow shirt: The altered image of George Floyd was allegedly sent to a WhatsApp chat group that contained police officers and staff, as well as civilians. © Photograph: Family Handout/AFP/Getty Images The altered image of George Floyd was allegedly sent to a WhatsApp chat group that contained police officers and staff, as well as civilians.

A UK police officer is under investigation by the police watchdog over the sharing of an offensive meme of George Floyd in a private social media chat group that included other officers.

The Guardian has learned that the officer, who is with the Devon and Cornwall force, is alleged to have shared the image on 30 May.

That was five days after the death of Floyd in the US after a police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes in the street. The incident caused outrage and mass protests across the world.

His death has also put the race record of the British police back under the spotlight. The Devon and Cornwall officer, who holds the rank of sergeant, is under investigation for gross misconduct by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Related: Protests over George Floyd's death around the world (Photos)


Video: "Police issue further footage in appeal to identify man linked with assault cases" (Evening Standard)

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The altered image of Floyd was allegedly sent to a WhatsApp group that contained police officers and staff, as well as civilians.

It was reported to bosses at the police force in the south-west of England by a white fellow police officer in the same force within 48 hours of the image being sent.

The inquiry will examine if conversations in the chat group continued after the image was sent. The sergeant under investigation has been placed on restricted duties and the force is considering whether to suspend him.

The investigation by the IOPC is expected to consider if the sending of the offensive image Floyd was motivated by racism, and also whether it was an attempt at humour that backfired.

Devon and Cornwall police have referred themselves to the IOPC over the arrest of Simeon Francis, 35, after a video emerged of him being detained by police in Exeter city centre. During the arrest, made last year, Francis says “I can’t breathe”, and complains of pressure on his throat, as officers detain him.

After a separate incident, the IOPC is also investigating Francis’s death last month, after he was found unresponsive in the custody suite in Torquay, Devon.

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