MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minneapolis City Council approved Friday a record $27 million civil settlement with the family of George Floyd.
The city council voted 13-0 to approve the settlement, which directs $500,000 to be used to benefit the George Floyd Memorial site at 38th and Chicago.
It is the largest pre-trial civil rights wrongful death settlement in U.S. history.
“That the largest pre-trial settlement in a wrongful death case ever would be for the life of a Black man sends a powerful message that Black lives do matter and police brutality against people of color must end,” said Ben Crump, the family’s attorney.
Floyd died on May 25 in police custody after Derek Chauvin, a white former officer with the Minneapolis Police Department pressed his knee into his neck for over eight minutes. His death was filmed and widely circulated throughout the world, sparking protests and a national reckoning on police reform and racial justice.
Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, as well as a third-degree murder charge.
The three other former officers at the scene – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane – face charges for aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. They will be tried jointly in August.
Jury selection is currently underway for Chauvin. It is unclear how the settlement will impact the proceedings.
The federal lawsuit was filed on July 15, accusing the four former Minneapolis police officers of violating Floyd’s rights when they restrained him.
“Mr. Floyd died because the weight of the entire Minneapolis Police Department was on his neck,” Crump said when the suit was filed. The lawsuit also said the city allowed for a culture of excessive force and racism to proliferate within the police department.
In 2019, the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an unarmed Australian-American dual citizen who was shot and killed by Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, received a $20 million settlement from the city. It came three days after Noor was convicted of third-degree murder. At the time, it was the largest police settlement in Minneapolis history.
Two years before, the family of Philando Castile, a Black man killed by an officer during a traffic stop in 2016, reached a $3 million settlement with the St. Paul suburb of St. Anthony.
According to documents in state probate court, Floyd is survived by 11 known heirs, including five children and six siblings who live in Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and New York.
Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd said she is “pleased that this part of our tragic journey to justice for my brother George is resolved.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the settlement “marks another milestone in shaping a more just future for Minneapolis. Our settlement with George Floyd’s family reflects a shared commitment to advancing racial justice and a sustained push for progress.”
The past year has dramatically shifted our city’s trajectory, and today marks another milestone in shaping a more just future for Minneapolis. Our settlement with George Floyd’s family reflects a shared commitment to advancing racial justice and a sustained push for progress.
— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) March 12, 2021
At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Crump said Frey and the Minneapolis City Council made a “great step of showing the world responsible leadership” through the settlement.
“History won’t judge us based on the eloquence of our words but by the power of our actions,” he told Frey.
After Floyd’s death, Minneapolis adopted police reforms, prohibiting officers to review body-camera footage before submitting their police report. Last month, Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo updated the policy to command all officers to keep their cameras rolling the entire time they are at a scene.
The state of Minnesota too passed a police reform bill in July, banning chokeholds and “warrior-style” training, as well requiring officers to intervene when a colleague is acting inappropriately.
Attorneys for Floyd’s family however, say the reforms are just the beginning. They argue the city must work to end the “python grip” of police union contracts and give the power of discipline to police chiefs, and develop a use-of-force panel to oversee officers’ actions.
Crump and the Floyd family also challenged Minneapolis businesses to match the $500,000 sum set aside to rebuild 38th and Chicago Avenue.