'I was incensed': Durham police chief says she was 'hurt' when she saw George Floyd video, could not watch the whole thing

Joel Brown Image
Friday, May 29, 2020
Durham police chief speaks out on George Floyd case
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In May of 2020, Durham police chief C.J. Davis said she was "incensed" and "hurt" when she saw the George Floyd video and could not watch the whole thing.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Minneapolis enters another night of unrest over the nine-minute video that has triggering outrage nationwide, Durham's Chief of Police C.J. Davis sat down with ABC11 to discuss the death of George Floyd, bias in policing and how to rebuild trust between communities of color and the police.

RELATED: George Floyd death: Protesters enter Minneapolis police station, set fires

As a human being, as a black woman watching that video of what happened to George Floyd, what was your reaction?

"Emotions of outrage. I was incensed. Then, I was hurt. And to tell you the truth I have not watched the entire video. I could not watch the entire video. My spirit just didn't allow me to witness that type of treatment to a human being."

What if this wasn't Minneapolis. What if it was Durham, NC and those were your officers and you had to watch the video?

"Whether it's here in Durham or anywhere, any person of any level of compassion for the human race for that matter would have a sense of anger and desire to fix it."

The two Minneapolis officers seen in the video have a history of conduct complaints. None led to disciplinary action.

RELATED: Fayetteville police chief believes Minneapolis officers should be held accountable in George Floyd case

How do you navigate identifying and removing officers who might not be suited for policing?

"You do it in several ways. You pay very close attention to your recruitment process for one thing -- making sure you get the right people coming through the door. You still have to monitor the various types of behaviors. You can't ignore the signs when you believe that an officer's issues aren't going away."

Criminal Charges Against Officers

On Good Morning America, Wednesday, George Floyd's sister, who lives in Raeford, said firing the officers was not enough--that they should be charged with murder. "They killed him," Bridget Floyd said.

Chief Davis didn't want to get ahead of potential criminal charges, but made one thing clear.

"When I look at that tape, you see excessive force," Davis said. "The amount of force that's needed is the amount to mitigate a particular situation. Once you've achieved that, anything extra is excessive."

Rebuilding Trust

In the four years since taking over at DPD, Chief Davis has worked to slowly build back trust between the department and communities of color -- after years of complaints of racial disparities in traffic stops and misdemeanor marijuana enforcement.

She is currently president of NOBLE, The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

"I feel it is my responsibility to help initiate the change that people want to see -- that I want to see," Davis said. "But we won't give up. We cannot give up. We want our community to know that this is not who we are. We are better than this. And we won't tolerate it."

The chief says she's working to bring even more accountability to Durham policing. She says DPD is in the final stages of unveiling a disciplinary matrix for all department staff. The new set of policies and procedures, according to the chief, would prohibit the department from retaining employees who've shown a pattern of "egregious misconduct or violations."