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.
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.
Wow, between the Floyd settlement and another in 2019, the City of Minneapolis will have paid families $47 million to settle police brutality cases. The city budgeted $28 million for its public health department in 2021. https://t.co/ucQOXgrKHa
— Austin Sanders (@daustinsanders) March 12, 2021
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.”
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) March 12, 2021
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.
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.
Chauvin is first to stand trial, and following his trial, the three remaining officers will each face a judge and jury.