George Floyd family sues city of Minneapolis, officers involved citing ‘reckless disregard’ of civil rights

The family of George Floyd is suing the city of Minneapolis and the four officers involved in his death, citing a failure in proper police training and a racist departmental culture that led to a “reckless disregard” of Floyd’s civil rights.

“This complaint shows what we have said all along, that Mr. Floyd died because the weight of the entire Minneapolis Police Department was on his neck,” attorney Ben Crump, who represents Floyd’s family, said in a statement. “The city of Minneapolis has a history of policies, procedures and deliberate indifference that violates the rights of arrestees, particularly Black men, and highlights the need for officer training and discipline. This is an unprecedented case, and with this lawsuit we seek to set a precedent that makes it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people — especially Black people — in the future.”

Mayor Jacob Frey said he would not comment on pending litigation.

City Attorney Erik Nilsson said in a statement that “George Floyd’s death is a tragedy. The city is reviewing the civil lawsuit filed by his family and will be responding to it. Criminal charges are pending against four Minneapolis police officers, and it’s very important that the criminal case proceed without interference.”

Floyd, who was Black, died May 25 after officer Derek Chauvin, pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn’t breathe as bystanders pleaded with Chauvin to stop. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers at the scene — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Kueng — are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. All have been fired.

The lawsuit contends that the officers used deadly force in non-deadly circumstances, despite receiving pone restraint training after the 2010 death of David Smith, who died while being held down by Minneapolis police officers.

The lawsuit also alleges that the department engaged in a culture of “warrior-style” or “killology” training, failed to terminate dangerous officers and fostered a culture of racism, leading to a violation of Floyd’s Fourth Amendment rights. The suit requests an unspecified amount of damages.

“The Floyd family deserves justice for the inhumane way in which officers with the Minneapolis Police Department killed Mr. Floyd,” said attorney L. Chris Stewart. “Furthermore, the city has a responsibility to acknowledge the history and practices of excessive force and impunity with its police force, as well as shortfalls in officer training and discipline.”

Settlements involving police encounters have varied widely in recent years in Minneapolis and a nearby suburb.

In 2019, the excessive-force lawsuit with the family of the Justine Ruszczyk Damond was settled for $20 million, the largest amount in the city’s history. An unarmed Damond was shot in the alley behind her southwest Minneapolis home by the now-imprisoned Mohamed Noor.

Mayor Jacob Frey said he would not comment on pending litigation.

Also last year, the family of Jamar Clark, who was fatally shot by Minneapolis police in 2015, reached a $200,000 tentative settlement with the city. The agreement came months after the City Council rejected a previous five-figure offer as too low.

The mother of Philando Castile, a motorist killed by a St. Anthony police officer in 2016, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement with the city that employed the officer.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her young daughter a $675,000 settlement. They both were in the car when Castile was shot. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted of manslaughter by a jury.


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