US wrestling coach faces backlash for defending police over George Floyd killing

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  • May 29, 2020
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A Washington high-school wrestling coach has come under fire after he defended tactics used by the police during George Floyd‘s fatal arrest.

Dave Hollenbeck recreated the African American’s final moments in a photograph and commented that the hold is not lethal for the person on the ground.

In the picture, which was uploaded to social media, the Bethel School District coach is being held down by his neck and makes a thumbs-up gesture to the camera.

Many people have criticised the post, but Mr Hollenbeck said he was simply trying to prove a point about technique and apologised if people were offended.

His post alongside the picture read: “Not dead yet I’m doing this for our police officers the media is a race-baiting machine and I’m tired of it.

A school coach has come under fire for recreating the hold used during the fatal George Floyd arrest (KOMO News)

“I’m going to speak out every time if you don’t like that I’m sorry but I love All people..Wake up America.”

His comments refer to a widely shared video of a Minneapolis police officer pinning Mr Floyd by his neck after he had been handcuffed.

The four Minneapolis police officers involved in Mr Floyd’s death have been fired (Facebook/Darnella Frazier/AFP vi)

The 46-year-old father of two pleaded that he couldn’t breathe before he became unresponsive and died on Monday, sparking outcry from people around the world.

The four officers involved with the arrest were all fired the next day.

Speaking to KOMO News, Mr Hollenbeck admitted the Facebook post was insensitive and said: “I’m not a racist man. “I don’t have that in me, my children don’t have that in them, I didn’t instil that in them.

Dave Hollenbeck has since apologised for the post and said he didn’t mean to cause offence (Komo News)

“I’m sorry that I offended anybody, that was not my point. I was trying to show something.”

He stated that he was defending the technique used by the police officers during the arrest.

“I have a speciality in fighting on the ground, and I know that just putting your knee on the back –to me, I would say that not going to lead to death,” he added.

“Now did he have other underlying issues? Maybe.”

However members of the school community where Mr Hollenbeck works have not taken the post lightly.

Mother of two, George-Jean Edwards, said she is outraged by the post and following its upload she faced a difficult conversation with her daughters.

George Floyd Protests – In pictures

“When this happened, I was completely blown,” she told KOMO News.

“Disbelief and really quite frankly sick to know that someone that people trust with their kids was speaking and interpreting such a horrifying situation in the manner that he did.”

The school is investigating the post but for the moment, the coach is still a member of staff.

Mrs Edwards added: “The picture and the caption attached to the picture definitely exuded racial tendencies.

“I don’t think you can come back from that.”