A high school wrestling coach in the town of Spanaway, Washington drew criticism this week after he wrote a Facebook post that mocked the death of George Floyd and defended the police officers involved in the tragedy.
Local news station KOMO reports that wrestling coach Dave Hollenbeck this week posted a photo of himself smiling and giving a thumbs-up signal while another person put their knee on the back of his neck — a clear reference to the video showing a police officer with his knee on George Floyd’s neck shortly before he died.
Hollenbeck said that the photo proved that Floyd couldn’t have died from having an officer keeping a knee on the back of his neck, even though Floyd was pleading with the officer that he was having trouble breathing.
“Not dead yet,” he wrote about having someone pin their knee on his neck. “I’m doing this for Are (sic) police officers the media is a race baiting machine and I’m tired of it 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.”
When contacted by KOMO, Hollenbeck apologized if anyone found his post offensive, but insisted that he didn’t mean to downplay the death of a black man.
“I’m not a racist man,” Hollenbeck said. “I don’t have that in me, my children don’t have that in them, I didn’t instill that in them. I’m sorry that I offended anybody, that was not my point. I was trying to show something.”
Hollenbeck then said that his experience as a wrestling coach qualified him to determine that Floyd couldn’t have died from having a cop putting a knee on the back of his neck.
“I have a specialty 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 said, before adding, “Now did he have other underlying issues? Maybe.”
The Bethel School District says it is launching an investigation into the post.
Watch KOMO’s report on the coach below.
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