St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell says he had made all of his officers watch the video of George Floyd's arrest, and challenged them to put themselves in Floyd's shoes as they go about their jobs.
The chief says he was "shocked, disgusted, angry and grieving" as footage emerged showing a police officer's knee being placed on Floyd's neck, with the 46-year-old dying at Hennepin County Medical Center shortly afterwards.
Axtell went public with his comments after speaking with his officers, calling the video "beyond disturbing."
"Something went horribly wrong at the intersection of 38th and Chicago, and everyone in law enforcement owes it to themselves, their coworkers, their city and the people they serve to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
"So today I asked every SPPD police officer to watch the horrible video and do something different. I asked them to put themselves in George Floyd’s shoes.
"I asked them to imagine they are on the ground and cannot breathe. Imagine that their only option is to turn to a police officer for help. Imagine the pain, fear and desperation. Then think about how their families would feel later, watching such a video of them, beneath the knee of an officer, with no hope.
"Then I asked them to put themselves in the shoes of the officers, the bystanders, the community members we serve who are now forced to confront this tragedy.
As painful as this is, it’s something we, as law enforcement professionals, must do. Because when we lose our integrity, respect for all, compassion and empathy – when we stop seeing people and only see problems – we lose everything that is good about our profession."
Axtell's comments come after St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter calls for swift action being taken to held the officers involved accountable.
On Wednesday, he told SiriusXM's Urban View that there's "no excuse" for the police's actions, saying "how egregious does it have to get?"
A series of other law enforcement experts, including former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, criticized the use of force in this story by the Star Tribune.