With protests and violence rocking several cities, including New York City, after the videotaped killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) called the officer’s actions a type of racism.
“Perhaps the most disturbing thing” about the way now-fired officer Derek Chauvin, who is now in jail on charges of third-degree murder, acted is the “lack of concern that this officer showed in knowing that he was being videotaped,” said Bellone on his daily conference call with reporters. “That suggests this officer felt that there was no accountability.”
In calling the actions of Chauvin structural racism, Bellone pointed to a Newsday investigation that revealed a similar type of racism and discrimination in the housing industry on Long Island.
While Suffolk County has made “an incredible amount of progress, we clearly have much more work to do,” Bellone said.
The county executive said he understood the protests that have taken place in response to videos that showed Chauvin kneeling on the neck of the handcuffed Floyd, whose pleas that he couldn’t breathe went unheeded.
Bellone, however, said overrunning a police station “can not happen” and expressed his support for the vast majority of police officers who are “hard working, dedicated professionals who are putting their own safety on the line to protect us.”
In a statement she read during the media call, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said Floyd’s death was “an outrage” and was “unacceptable.” She condemned the tragic killing, while adding that she holds the officers of the Suffolk County Police Department to the “highest standards.”
Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron, who has been on the force for over 35 years, described how he has been in situations where people resisted his efforts to arrest them.
Force is a “last resort,” Cameron said. Officers are trained to “use the bare minimum force necessary to get someone into custody.”
Cameron has never put a knee to another person’s neck and said he had never seen another police officer in the SCPD use a similar tactic during his career. Officers have not received training to pin a suspect to the ground with a knee to a handcuffed person’s neck.
Pinning someone to the ground could cause positional asphyxia, spinal damage, or can cause damage to the airway.
Cameron said he believes his officers will step in and intervene if another officer is using unnecessary or excessive force.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the state would be getting the attorney general to review procedures following the demonstrations which turned violent on Friday, with multiple instances of recorder violence against protesters and violent actions against police.
As for the COVID-19 numbers, the county has had an additional 87 positive tests, bringing the total to 38,582. That doesn’t include 13,733 people who have tested positive for the antibody.
Hospitalizations have declined by 16 to 275 as of May 28. At the same time, the number of residents with COVID-19 in ICU beds has fallen by 5 to 80.
Hospital capacity was at 65 percent for overall beds and 62 percent for ICU beds.
The number of people who have been discharged from the hospital in the last day was 27.
An additional 13 people have died from complications related to the coronavirus. The total number of deaths has reached 1,892.
Separately, the county reopened its camping reservation system yesterday at 4 p.m. Residents made 4,739 reservations for 25,608 reservation days.
“That shows the demand we have and the desire for people to get out and enjoy summer,” Bellone said. “We are going to be able to have a summer here in Suffolk County.”