Floyd was killed after Derek Chauvin, a White Minneapolis officer kneeled on his neck causing asphyxiation.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of race-motivated violence and police brutality
The city of Minneapolis has agreed to pay $27 million to settle a lawsuit by the family of George Floyd over his wrongful death in police custody. It's been close to a year since George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man was killed after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis cop kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes, causing asphyxiation. The incident was filmed by bystanders and he could be seen pleading to ease the pressure on his neck in his final moments. Floyd's death proved to be the spark that ignited protests across America over racial injustice and police brutality.
Last year, Floyd's family had sued the city, Chauvin, and three other police officers involved in the incident in federal court. They accused the cops of using excessive force against Floyd in violation of his constitutional rights. Benjamin Crump, who represented Floyd's family, said the agreement was the largest pre-trial settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit in American history, reported Reuters. Crump said the agreement is an indication that a Black person's death at the hands of police will no longer be written off as trivial, unimportant, or unworthy of consequences. "While our hearts are broken, we are comforted in knowing that even in death, George Floyd showed the world how to live," said Floyd's sister, Bridgett Floyd in a statement. She added that Floyd's family was "pleased that this part of our tragic journey to justice for my brother George is resolved."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was at the news conference to announce the settlement along with Floyd's relatives and Crump. "Every American remembers where they were when they first saw it," Frey said of the video showing Floyd's death. "Today's settlement reflects our shared commitment to advancing racial justice." Frey promised police reform, claiming the city would be "unrelenting" in implementing the necessary changes. While Frey announced the settlement and promised reform, it was unclear whether the city of the police department had admitted to wrongdoing in Floyd's death. As part of the settlement, $500,000 will be given as a contribution from Floyd's family to the community at the Minneapolis intersection where Floyd died.
Money will not bring back George Floyd, but this $27 million civil settlement at least brings us a step closer to justice & shows the world that George Floyd’s life MATTERED & that BLACK LIVES MATTER! We'll continue the pressure until his murderer is criminally convicted. ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/j1icDoUHwO— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) March 14, 2021
It was on May 25, 2020, that Derek Chauvin, along with a few other officers, had arrested Floyd on the suspicion of him using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at the Cup Foods grocery store at the intersection. They pinned him to the ground with Chauvin kneeling on his neck, causing his death. The cops had ignored the pleas of the public who told them he was suffocating. All four Minneapolis officers were fired by the Police Department and Floyd's death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. Derek Chauvin faces charges of murder and manslaughter for his role in George Floyd's death. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty and has claimed he properly followed his police training.
‘I was 11 years old when police beat the crap out of me’ — Rep. @JamaalBowmanNY shared his own childhood experience with police while speaking in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act pic.twitter.com/P3FE52D4tX— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 14, 2021
Roxie Washington, Floyd's partner, addressed his death at a press conference last year. “Gianna doesn’t have a father. He will never see her grow up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle. He loved her, he loved her so much,” said Washington of Floyd’s feelings for their daughter Gianna, according to CNN. “I’m here for my baby. I’m here for George because I want justice for him, and I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good.”
The settlement between the city of Minneapolis and Floyd's family was announced in the middle of jury selection in the trial of Derek Chauvin. His attorney now wants the trial postponed as he described the timing of the announcement as "profoundly disturbing." He went on to argue that the language used was "highly prejudicial," reported Insider. "The goal of this system is to provide a fair trial, and this is not fair," argued Nelson. "We got a mayor who's a lawyer. He should know better."
Image credit: Getty Images | Photo by Stephanie Keith