ASHTABULA — Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said Friday the city is looking into Facebook posts by officer Aaron McCracken regarding the death of a man in police custody in Minneapolis.
George Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25. Video footage of the incident shows an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck, as the African-American man yelled that he could not breathe. Near the end of the video, Floyd was non-responsive, with the officer still kneeling on his neck.
Floyd was pronounced dead after being transported to a hospital.
“If you can scream you can breathe,” McCracken said in a comment, according to a screenshot of a Facebook post. A concerned citizen emailed the Facebook exchange to the Star Beacon.
McCracken’s statement was followed by a shrugging emoji.
“Sounds like there was some other medical condition going on with him,” McCracken said in a follow-up comment. “Probably should have been rolled over but I’m not thinking a knee to the back of the neck holding him down killed him. Sounds like he was having a heart attack or something.”
Stell said he was aware of the posts.
“We’re looking into the matter. We’re addressing it,” Stell said. “We have policies and procedures in place that we have to follow, and we’re following them as we’re supposed to.”
Stell confirmed that the posts were made by McCracken.
A pre-disciplinary meeting will be scheduled next week, Stell said.
Stell said he could not discuss what measures may be taken.
“It is being addressed, and we’re going to follow our policies and procedures, and go from there,” Stell said.
City officials declined to make McCracken available for comment.
Ashtabula City Manager Jim Timonere did not return a call requesting comment.
McCracken was previously employed with the Village of Jefferson Police Department. He resigned that position in 2018 after sending inappropriate messages via Facebook to a woman with whom he had interacted previously about an arrest near her home.
“The only thing that showed up in [McCracken’s] personnel file as far as a disciplinary matter was that incident,” Stell said.
There had been no incidents with McCracken since his hiring by the Ashtabula Police Department, Stell said.
A meeting is scheduled for Thursday between the ADP and the NAACP.
Charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter were filed against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, on Friday in connection with Floyd’s death.