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Farmington police, activist group react to Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict

Chief Hebbe says kneeling on neck tactic is not taught or approved
A demonstrator holds a drawing depicting George Floyd, a Black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers, at a 2020 protest in Albuquerque. Derek Chauvin, one of the ex-police officers, was convicted April 20 of the murder of Floyd

FARMINGTON – The Farmington Police Department and a local advocacy group weighed in on the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted April 20 of the murder of George Floyd.

Bekah Davis, a founding member of 4Corners Coalition for Justice, said the group as a whole is relieved by the verdict and hopes it sets a precedent for future cases involving police brutality against people of color.

“We will continue to fight for accountability and justice for the many people who have been denied it, but more importantly, we need to figure out how to end police brutality,” Davis said.

The 4Corners Coalition for Justice is an advocacy group based in San Juan County that focuses on racial justice, police reform, food sovereignty and equitable treatment under the law.

The group formed last summer and has hosted a panel discussion with Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe about local policing matters; advocated for different bills, including the New Mexico Civil Rights Act that Davis said would end the use of qualified immunity; had an Earth Day cleanup event that rounded up hundreds of pounds of trash; and heard from attorney Jeffrey Haas about his work with the Black Panther Party.

When asked for a response to the guilty verdict, Farmington Police Department spokeswoman Nicole Brown referred The Durango Herald to a Facebook post Hebbe made May 28, 2020 – three days after Floyd’s death – saying Hebbe stands by those statements.

“The death of Mr. Floyd, after being handcuffed and taken into police custody, should NEVER have happened,” the post reads.

Hebbe added that nothing warranted a “handcuffed prisoner to have an officer kneeling on his neck until his death.”

“To be clear, this tactic is neither taught, nor approved by the Farmington Police Department,” Hebbe said.

Hebbe called it an important event that shouldn’t pass without taking notice.

“George Floyd should not have died that day,” Hebbe said. “If we as law enforcement leaders cannot plainly condemn this kind of event, we are failing our profession, our officers and our communities.”


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