Wrestling coach in Washington state fired over post on George Floyd's detention

"His behavior was not consistent with our equity initiatives and nondiscrimination policies," the Bethel School District said of coach Dave Hollenbeck's Facebook post.

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By Janelle Griffith

A high school wrestling coach in Washington state has been fired over a post about George Floyd's getting pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer.

Dave Hollenbeck, a first-year coach at Bethel High School in Spanaway, about 45 miles south of Seattle, uploaded a photo to Facebook of himself on the floor, smiling, with a knee to the back of his neck, similar to images of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, who died on Monday after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white officer, Derek Chauvin, who had his knee on Floyd's neck for about eight minutes.

Hollenbeck, 44, wrote in the post: "Not dead yet I'm doing this for ... 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."

Wrestling coach Dave Hollenbeck's Facebook post.Dave Hollenbeck / via Facebook

Screenshots of Hollenbeck's post have been shared widely on social media. He confirmed the caption of the post in an interview with NBC News on Friday.

Douglas Boyles, a spokesman for the school district, said in a statement Thursday that Hollenbeck has been fired.

"His behavior was not consistent with our equity initiatives and nondiscrimination policies," the statement said.

Hollenbeck said there was no racist intent behind the post and that he uploaded the image to defend police.

"I know how hard it is for them to do their job safely," he said Friday. "That's what made me post that.

"I don't have all the facts," he added. "I don't know if anybody does."

Hollenbeck said he has 20 years of wrestling experience and is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He said he intended to show that the technique the officer used, which he said is called "a knee on the back of the neck," could not have killed Floyd.

"That was never my intent to be racist in any way," he said Friday. "I was sticking up for the cops that the technique is sound if done correct."

Hollenbeck told NBC News that he has trained security for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks team on how to control people without strikes and that he has provided security to celebrities when they have stayed at hotels in Washington and for a presidential candidate in 2012.

In a series of videos posted on his Facebook page since his firing, Hollenbeck also denied being racist.

"I got fired from two jobs today and I lost my academy but I feel the freest that I have ever been," he said in one of the videos recorded Thursday. "And that's because I don't answer to anyone anymore. I answer to me."

Hollenbeck said one of his former employers, which he did not name, threatened to expose things from his past, including that he played a Nazi character in 2007 while wrestling, if he did not resign.

"I am not a Nazi," Hollenbeck said in the video. "My tattoos are not Nazis. I am not that."

"I am a big people lover," he added. "I love people."

Hollenbeck said he has been unfairly portrayed by some local outlets that have interviewed him.

He said the way the reports were edited "made me look kind of bad, I have to admit."

Hollenbeck reiterated at the close of the video that he is not a racist and that he disagrees with the assertion that "that technique killed a man."

"I'm thinking of ways to prove that in an entertaining way," he said. "Because things are going to change."

The incident involving Floyd was recorded by a bystander and widely shared on social media. The video shows that Floyd begged: "Please, please, please, I can't breathe. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can't breathe," before he went silent.

Chauvin and three other officers involved in detaining Floyd were fired Tuesday. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.