Torquay officer 'shared offensive meme of Floyd arrest'

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Sgt Jones told investigators that he was "not making light of George Floyd's killing"

A policeman shared a grossly offensive meme of George Floyd's arrest to fellow officers, a court was told.

Sgt Geraint Jones was off duty when he forwarded the altered image of the arrest just a few days after Mr Floyd died, Plymouth magistrates heard.

Mr Floyd, 46, died in the US after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes on 25 May 2019.

Sgt Jones denies sending a grossly offensive image in a WhatsApp group of six officers and two others.

One of the group members complained to a senior officer and Devon and Cornwall Police's professional standards department about the image Sgt Jones had forwarded.

Prosecuting barrister Lee Bremridge said Sgt Jones had been a police officer for 23 years and was based in the custody centre at Torquay.

Mr Bremridge said Sgt Jones told investigators from police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct: "I deeply regret my actions. It was stupid of me and ill thought out."

The court heard he described sending the meme on 30 May 2019 as a "clumsy attempt at humour".

Sgt Jones told investigators that he was "not making light of George Floyd's killing".

"The death of Mr Floyd is not amusing, to anyone in their right mind it is not amusing," he said.

Sgt Jones said he could "understand that people do think it's offensive," but denied it was grossly offensive.

He said there were no BAME members of the group and had there been he may have been a "bit more sensitive and emotionally aware".

The court heard that some of the people on the WhatsApp responded to the meme with laughing emojis.

Defence barrister James Hodivala QC said Sgt Jones intended it "as a joke" and was not intending to cause gross offence.

Mr Hodivala said a conviction would have a "chilling effect on humour" and said: "These are modern issues, society tolerates different senses of humour."

District Judge Jo Matson said she would make her judgement and adjourned the case until 21 April.

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