Houston chief: Chauvin verdict shows “no one is above the law”
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Houston police chief Troy Finner said Sunday that the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial sent a message to everyone — including police officers — that “no one is above the law.”
“It’s a message that no one is above the law and it’s a message to everybody in our nation, including our citizens, that, you know what, everyone is going to be held accountable,” Finner said on “Face the Nation.”
Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted Tuesday of murdering George Floyd, who was originally from Houston, in May 2020.
Finner encouraged police officers not to get “caught up in the negative noise” surrounding the profession, but instead to slow down and make efforts to better understand the people and communities they are protecting in order to foster a better relationship.
“Understand what’s going on. Understand that people of color, communities of color, are hurting. We have to be honest with them. We have to give value to their perceptions, to their life experiences, because their perception is their reality,” Finner said. “Our perception is our reality. And it’s not until you slow down and give value to that, start to communicate and talk about those tough things. And when you do that, you build bridges.”
Finner said police reform is a “two-way street” and that police departments across the country need to be more honest, saying “too many” Black unarmed men are being shot across the country and it needs to be addressed.
In light of the quick response by police to release the footage of the shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, Finner said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will make an announcement soon on the use of police officer footage.
“You can’t just talk transparency and not be transparent. The public needs to know,” Finner said. “And the quicker you put those body-worn camera footage out, the better off everybody is going to be.”
Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who also joined “Face the Nation” on Sunday, said that for the killings to stop there needs to be “fundamental change” in how public safety is addressed in this country.
“Rather than actually solve the problems of our community, problems of education, problems of poverty, problems of homelessness, we have shifted all of the resources to deal with those problems into our criminal justice system,” Ifill said. “We need to be putting our resources and attention to those problems and not shunting them off to the criminal justice system and asking police officers, armed officers to address issues that we have been too cowardly to address as a democracy.”
Ifill said she is encouraged by the announcement made by Attorney General Merrick Garland after the Chauvin verdict that the Department of Justice plans to open an investigation into the pattern and practice of policing in Minneapolis. Ifill believes this won’t be the only federal investigation into policing in America and that this decision shows how serious the Biden administration is about solving these issues.
“I don’t think this will be the only one. I think this will be the first of many,” Ifill said. “And one of the things that needs to happen is the reupping of those investigations into unconstitutional policing and bringing resources to bear to show that we are serious about it.”