A British police officer has been given a final written warning after sharing a “grossly offensive” doctored image of George Floyd’s arrest, meaning he will remain in his job.
Sergeant Geraint Jones, 47, admitted to gross misconduct during an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation, which found he had breached the professional standards of authority such as respect and courtesy, equality and diversity, duties and responsibilities, and that he had behaved in a manner that discredited the police.
Jones sent the image to a WhatsApp group containing police colleagues and civilian staff from Devon and Cornwall Police in May 2020, just days after Floyd’s death. The altered image depicted a naked picture of Wardy Joubert III superimposed over Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd. In June this year Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years for murdering Floyd.
The meme came to light after it was reported by a colleague in the WhatsApp chat. Two colleagues responded with laughing emojis, however.
Jones was acquitted from any criminal charges at a hearing before a district judge at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court on the 21st of April earlier this year. But he still faced separate disciplinary action by the UK police watchdog, the IOPC.
IOPC regional director Catrin Evans said: “The image was bound to cause significant offence, not least within our Black communities. It is encouraging that the matter was swiftly reported by a work colleague who rightly called out the behaviour.”
“The outcome is a reminder that the sharing of offensive material by any serving police officer is unacceptable, and that individuals will be held accountable. It is important officers understand that whether such behaviour occurs on or off duty, or in a private or public social media network, inappropriate and unprofessional conduct has serious consequences.”
Jones’ written warning will last for five years but he will continue in his post.