Florida police officer suspended for pushing kneeling protester
Some protesters wearing masks at demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd. /Reuters

Some protesters wearing masks at demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd. /Reuters

Fort Lauderdale police suspended an officer after video showed he pushed a kneeling black woman to the ground during protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

The officer’s colleagues quickly pushed him away from the woman and down the street on Sunday.

Police Chief Rick Maglione said on Monday that Officer Steven Pohorence pushed the woman as he and other officers moved in to rescue one colleague who had become surrounded and another from a patrol car that people began jumping on.

Maglione said Poherence’s actions will be investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement before an internal investigation is conducted.

Maglione said he understands why some believe the shove provoked the crowd to throw bottles, but he said there were people in the crowd with bricks, bottles, fireworks and other weapons who were hoping to start a fight with officers.

“I don’t think (Poherence’s) action created what occurred ... we were in the process of an officer rescue that turned into another officer rescue,” the chief said. But he said Poherence’s actions “could have added to what was going on,” and he commended Officer Krystle Smith who pushed Poherence away from the woman.

“She did what you are supposed to do: When you see either adrenaline or emotion or some kind of interaction going south ... that is our job to do, is intervene,” he said.

George Floyd died on Monday last week after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes as he and his colleagues arrested him.

An onlooker's cell phone recorded the incident showing the 46-year-old black man moaning, "Please, I can't breathe" and "Don't kill me" as the police officer pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck. However, the video didn't show how the confrontation started.

After several minutes of the police office pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck, the victim went silent and was later pronounced dead.

The video quickly went viral on social media, sparking widespread protest from Tuesday afternoon, some of which have deteriorated into chaos.

Source(s): AP