George Floyd Settlement
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MARCH 12: Members of George Floyds family visit the memorial known as George Floyd Square after attending a press conference on March 12, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today the City of Minneapolis agreed to a record $27 million settlement with the family of George Floyd after his death in the custody of Minneapolis Police last May. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Last week the city of Minneapolis has agreed to pay an unprecedented $34 million to the family of George Floyd, making the George Floyd settlement the largest pretrial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history,

The death of George Floyd remains one of the most shocking flashpoints in racial history, and one of the few non-COVID related new stories that captured global attention in 2020.

On May 25, 2020, four police officers were called to a convenience store in Minneapolis after a 9-1-1 call. They had reports that George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, had purchased cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. After arriving on the scene Floyd was apprehended and quickly found himself pinned down by the neck, resting dangerously under the knee of an officer.

The next 8 minutes and 46 seconds would be caught on tape, the last 8 minutes and 46 seconds of Goerge Floyd’s life. The officer, Derek Chauvin, refused to release the pressure on Floyd, even as the man beneath his knee struggled.

Eventually, Floyd lost consciousness, but even then Chavin’s knee remained in place. By the time paramedic arrived at the scene George Floyd had taken his last breath.

The death of George Floyd kickstarted a global outcry, breathing new life into the Black Lives Matter movement. The confronting footage as beamed around the world and the four officers involved were promptly fired from their roles and subsequently charged with First Degree Murder.

George Floyd Settlement
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 08: People gather in a Manhattan park to protest on the first day of the trial for the killing of George Floyd last May on March 08, 2021 in New York City. The jury selection was delayed on Monday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin while an appeal proceeds over the possible reinstatement of a third-degree murder charge. Chauvin, who is being charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd, placed a knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly ten minutes resulting in the death of Floyd. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Since that fateful day last May, Floyd’s family have fought nonstop to keep the memory of George Floyd alive. While also using all available legal channels to ensure the city of Minneapolis pays the price for taking Floyd’s life.

Landmark civil lawsuit

And last week that price was paid, the George Floyd settlement a jaw-dropping $34 million, the single largest police settlement in history.

Unfortunately, the city of Minneapolis has form in the department of large police payouts. Prior to the death of Floyd, the city paid $US20 million ($25 million) to the family of Australian woman Justine Damond Ruszczyk, who was shot and killed by a police officer responding to her 911 call in July 2017.

Proof Black Lives Do Matter

At a press conference to announce the pretrial settlement Floyd’s family were at pains to remind the public that no amount of money will bring George back.

“Even though my brother is not here, he’s here with me in my heart,” Philonise Floyd said of George Floyd settlement. “If I could get him back, I would give all this back.”

Instead, the value of the money comes in the message it sends to both law enforcement and lawmakers.

“This is just one step on the journey to justice,” explained family lawyer Ben Crump. “This makes a statement that George Floyd deserved better than what we witnessed on May 25, 2020, that George Floyd’s life mattered, and that by extension, Black lives matter.”

Another Floyd family lawyer, Chris Stewart also reminded the public that the Goerge Floyd settlement will have an important knock-on effect when it comes to lawn enforcement. “When there’s a city council or a mayor deciding, oh, should we get rid of no-knock warrants? Should we get rid of chokeholds? Do we want to change these policies? They have 27 million reasons now why they should,” said Stewart.

Jury Selection

The historic George Floyd settlement comes as jury selection continues in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer charged with his murder. Jury selection began in the last few weeks and as of last Friday, half of the 12 jurors and two alternates had been selected. Four of the jurors identify as white, one as multiracial, one as Hispanic and one as Black, according to Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the case. Six of the jurors are in their 20s or 30s, and one is in her 50s.

George Floyd Settlement
Demonstrators protest outside the Hennepin County Government Center before jury selection begins at the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin on March 8, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. – Minneapolis residents braced for the opening on March 8, 2021 of what is sure to be one of the nation’s most closely watched trials in years — that of the white policeman charged with killing George Floyd, a Black man whose dying struggles were captured on a video seen around the world. Jury selection begins at 8:00 am (1400 GMT), though final debates over the exact charges against Derek Chauvin — the now former city officer who used his knee to pin a pleading, gasping Floyd by the neck to the pavement for nearly nine minutes — could yet delay the proceedings. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Chauvin is first to stand trial, and following his trial, the three remaining officers will each face a judge and jury.