Officer Fired After Telling Inmate He Looked Like George Floyd, Asking Him To Say ‘I Can’t Breathe’

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 18 Sep 2021 10:47
Officer Fired After Telling Inmate He Looked Like George Floyd, Asking Him To Say 'I Can't Breathe'Minnesota Department of Corrections/Offices Of Ben Crump Law/Alamy

A Florida police officer has been fired for asking a Black inmate to repeat some of George Floyd’s final words.

Floyd, who died at the hands of a police officer last year, uttered ‘I can’t breathe’ several times while Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck; something which the Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy asked an inmate to say.


Allegedly the inmate resembled Floyd, sparking Deputy First Class Rodney Payne to ask the unusual and highly offensive request.

Two claims of improper conduct were filed against Payne in July 2021, with internal affairs later discovering he’d asked the Floyd lookalike inmate to say ‘I can’t breathe’.

BLM protestors (Alamy)Alamy

Payne, who was working in corrections at the Core Facility Community Programs Unit at the time, made the comments in front of his immediate supervisor who immediately told him to stop making the derogatory remarks.


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Several other inmates witnessed the incident, leading to one of them filing a complaint about Payne via email. They said they did so because they believed the targeted inmate was unlikely to file a complaint himself out of fear of retaliation.

Following an internal affairs’ investigation, Payne was fired on August 26, USA Today reports.

During the investigation, Payne attempted to defend his remarks by saying it was his sense of humour, but realised in hindsight that his comments were offensive.

Florida police car (Alamy)Alamy

In light of this, he admitted he had violated policy on the two improper conduct allegations. The circumstances surrounding the second improper content remains unreported.

Another officer, Deputy First Class George Villa, was also fired in an unrelated incident of improper conduct and other issues. He was sacked from the police on August 3.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, Florida, George Floyd, Police Officer, US News


USA Today
  1. USA Today

    Florida deputy fired after telling inmate he looked like George Floyd, asking him to say 'I can't breathe'