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Statement of Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian Regarding the Death of George Floyd

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian

With [recent] news that all four officers involved in the suffocation of George Floyd have been charged, I want to again offer my condolences to George Floyd’s family, friends and all those feeling affected by this tragedy. The loss his family has suffered, and the pain they are experiencing are unfathomable. 

The video of George Floyd’s death has stirred in many of us anger, shock and a desire for action. Not only did these former officers fail to meet the high standards we have for members of our law enforcement profession, but their actions – and inactions – displayed a stunning lack of humanity. 

No one should be treated like this in America. 

And yet, time and again, injustices like this occur to people of color across the country disproportionately. We have been faced with this fact several times in recent months, but also throughout our history as a nation. Racial inequality exists in America, and there is abundant data to prove it – in policing and beyond. Now is the time to change this. 

I have spent much of this week speaking to leaders of color in Middlesex County and listening about what I can do as an ally. I have also spoken to sheriffs across the country, bringing over 100 of them together to condemn this tragedy. At a time when many law enforcement agencies across the country – including in Middlesex County – have striven to improve trust with communities of color, this incident shows our work remains incomplete.  

We must honestly acknowledge this shortcoming. We can also acknowledge the noble individuals in our profession that represent the values we all want from law enforcement – respect, service and honor. 

I believe that in the days and weeks ahead, we must seek justice while also seeking peace. As members of law enforcement, that means ensuring and encouraging the right to peacefully protest while not allowing those with criminal intent to disrupt and divert the focus away from the legitimate concerns of demonstrators. As members of our communities, that means not just calling for unity, but proving it with actions of support and solidarity with our neighbors of color. 

Finally, we must continue our efforts to create a more fair and accountable justice system – not just within policing but throughout the whole structure. We deserve, and must endeavor towards, a criminal justice system in which every American – regardless of race or creed – can believe in.

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