As Chief State’s Attorney for Connecticut, I would generally refrain from commenting on the actions of police officers or prosecutors in other states. However, the sheer tragedy that occurred in Minneapolis, resulting in the killing of George Floyd, calls for a response.
The actions of those officers are reprehensible, heart-wrenching, and criminal. There is nothing to defend. There is nothing to debate. I share in the sadness and outrage of those here and across the country. I am confident the matter will be investigated to the fullest extent of the law by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI in Minneapolis and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. They, like prosecutors in Connecticut, examine the facts of a case and apply them to the law to determine a just outcome.
Race-based policing has no place in our state or country. But there are officers in law enforcement whose actions cannot be tolerated. And, the inaction by those who stood-by, failing to render aid to Mr. Floyd, is perhaps more indicative of a culture of tolerance that cannot stand.
The role of law enforcement, police and prosecutors alike, is to protect and serve while building relationships of trust with the community. If a community does not believe they will be treated fairly by the officers sworn to serve them, there is no trust, and the system fails. The killing of George Floyd is only the latest in a long line of national incidents of police brutality against members of the Black and Brown communities that have led to an understandable loss of trust.
There is no question that we need to improve the relationships between law enforcement and the community. Every citizen of our state deserves the same level of respect and fairness, regardless of the color of their skin or in what neighborhood they live. We need to restore police legitimacy, and the only way to do so is with thoughtful, comprehensive reform that is long overdue.
For my part, I intend on supporting and implementing policy changes to promote accountability and transparency. I look forward to having difficult conversations with legislators, city leaders, police chiefs, and members of our communities to make the much-needed changes to restore trust in our legal system.
We need to rebuild that fractured trust, and the only way to do that is to take steps to ensure that every citizen of our state is treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.
I am committed to taking those steps so that all offenders, including those wearing uniforms, are held accountable for their crimes, and all residents in our state have an equal path to justice.