Florida sheriff fired after asking inmate to say 'I can't breathe,' saying he looked like George Floyd

Florida sheriff fired after asking inmate to say 'I can't breathe,' saying he looked like George Floyd
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A sheriff's deputy in Lee County, Fla., was fired from the department after telling an inmate that he resembled George Floyd, asking him to say “I can’t breathe,” USA Today reported.

Internal affairs reports released on Wednesday showed that Rodney Payne, who had been fired Aug. 26, had his appointments withdrawn, USA Today reported.

Payne is accused of two claims of improper conduct in July when he worked in a local corrections unit.

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The investigation found that Payne made the remarks to a specific inmate who he believed resembled George Floyd, asking him to recite Floyd’s last words before he died. Payne said the remarks while his immediate supervisor was present, USA Today reported.

Floyd, a black man, was murdered in May 2020 by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. 

Floyd’s death, which was captured on video by a local teenager Darnella Frazier, prompted a wave of civil unrest with calls for stronger law enforcement reform and an end to police brutality.

Chauvin was found guilty of murdering Floyd in April and was sentenced to serve 22 1/2 years in prison two months later, the USA Today reported. 

The report also found that several inmates heard Payne’s remarks and filed an email complaint, adding that the targeted inmate wouldn’t complain about the comments due to fear of retaliation, USA Today reported. 

Payne told supervisors that his remarks toward the inmate were “insensitive,” even suggesting that he had violated policy on the two improper conduct allegations, according to the investigation.