NYC police officer says he is 'ashamed' of himself for kneeling with George Floyd protesters

Abbianca Makoni
Hundreds of protesters gather in Manhattan Foley Square: Getty Images

A New York City police lieutenant has apologised to his fellow officers for kneeling with protesters – telling them that it is "something I will be shamed and humiliated about for the rest of my life."

In an email obtained by The New York Post in early June Lt. Robert Cattani of the Midtown South Precinct wrote that he lost sleep over the “horrible decision to give into a crowd of protesters demands.”

Mr Cattani was among a handful of officers who took a knee during a Black Lives Matter protest in Lower Manhattan's Foley Square after demonstrators chanted "NYPD, take a knee."

Demonstrations have been held in more than 580 U.S. towns and cities stretching from New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles to rural communities including Havre, Montana in solidarity with George Floyd, an African American who died in police custody in Minneapolis.

In his email, Mr Cattani said he feared the protest would become violent if he and several other officers did not kneel.

He wrote: "The conditions prior to the decision to take a knee were very difficult as we were put center stage with the entire crowd chanting.

“I know I made the wrong decision. We didn’t know how the protesters would have reacted if we didn’t and were attempting to reduce any extra violence.

"I thought maybe that one of the protester/rioters who saw it would later think twice about fighting or hurting a cop.

"I was wrong. At least that’s what I told myself when we made that bad decision. I know that it was wrong and something I will be ashamed and humiliated about for the rest of my life."

He added: "We all know that a-hole in Minneapolis was wrong," referring to Chauvin, who has now been charged with second degree murder for the killing of Mr Floyd after he knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

"Yet we don’t concede for other officer’s mistakes. I do not place blame on anyone other than myself for not standing my ground," he went on to write.

He also said that his decision "goes against every principle" and "value" he stands for.

St. Paul and Minneapolis firefighters take a knee outside of the Trask Worship Center following the memorial service for George Floyd (Getty Images)

"I spent the first part of my career thriving to build a reputation of a good cop. I threw that all in the garbage Sunday,’ he wrote.

Mr Cattani said he has been haunted by his decision and been unable to eat or sleep. He said he has even considered quitting. "I could not imagine the idea of ever coming back to work and putting on the uniform I so wrongly shamed. However, I decided that was the easy way out for me and I will continue to come to work every day being there for my personnel," he finished.

During the global protests which have also taken place in Germany, Kenya, Australia and the United Kingdom, firefighters, police officers and government officials have also taken a knee to stand in solidarity with the fight against racism and police brutality including Chief Constable, Alan Pughsley from Kent police, UK who was filmed during a gathering at Gravesend promenade last Friday.

Kent Police defended Mr Pughsley after his actions caused controversy among Kent residents and former officers, with some calling for him to resign.