THOSE who try to excuse the dreadful crime committed by the police officer who killed George Floyd by pointing out Floyd’s criminal past should be ashamed of themselves (HAS June 19 and July 3).

Floyd’s last, and most serious, crime was in 2007, when he was sentenced to five years in jail for his part in an armed robbery.

There is no evidence that the woman he held at gunpoint, was pregnant, and photos doing the rounds on the internet, purporting to be of her with a bruised face, are in fact of another woman.

After his release from prison in 2013, Floyd turned his life around. He became deeply religious, spoke out against gun crime and worked with a Christian programme providing drug rehabilitation and job placement services.

When he was arrested in May 2020 for allegedly buying cigarettes with a forged $20 bill, he was handcuffed, but resisted being pushed into the back seat of the police car saying he was claustrophobic. He ended up face down on the ground, still handcuffed. That was when officer Chauvin began kneeling on his neck. Floyd pleaded with the officer to stop, saying he couldn’t breathe, and calling for his mother. After six minutes, he became unresponsive.

Bystanders urged officers to check his pulse. One did, and could find no pulse. Despite this, Chauvin continued to kneel on his neck for a further three minutes, making sure he was dead. Resisting arrest does not deserve a death sentence, still less summary execution by a police officer.

Pete Winstanley, Durham