Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer on Friday emphasized the department’s life-first training in response to the officer-involved death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis.
Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, used a knee restraint on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, who later died Monday. Chauvin, who was fired, was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Floyd’s death sparked outrage and protests across the country, including Denver, where residents plan to hold protests this weekend.
Brammer’s written statement came hours before a “vigil” Friday night in Buckley Park in remembrance of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and “all of the countless victims of racist police terror and systemic white supremacy,” according to the event’s Facebook page. Organizers asked people to wear masks and practice social distancing at the event.
A march is also planned for noon Saturday in downtown Durango. According to a Facebook post, participants plan to meet at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train station and go from there.
“Durango is not Minneapolis or other places where these divisive events have occurred,” Brammer said. “We must ensure that we do not create or escalate divisiveness where it is not comparable. Remember this as we move to our future as a community.”
Chauvin pinned Floyd as Floyd said he could not breathe, and remained on him for three minutes after Floyd became unresponsive, according to news reports and bystander videos. Three other officers on the scene did not try to intervene. Their conduct is under investigation. All four officers have been fired.
Police agencies and law enforcement experts across the nation condemned the way Chauvin restrained Floyd, according to The Associated Press.
“From my observations of what has been released, officers from the Durango Police Department are not taught, nor does our culture condone such tactics or actions,” Brammer said.
Brammer said officer training is continually conducted and updated with the emphasis on life and safety. Durango police are trained to de-escalate incidents as quickly as possible once control has been established. Officers are “allowed and authorized to match or exceed a level of resistance to gain compliance,” he said.
“Durango Police Department’s highest priority is life and the safety of our community,” Brammer said. “This has been our focus well before the George Floyd event, and will continue to be part of our mission moving forward.”