On Wednesday, attorneys for George Floyd’s family announced they had filed a civil rights lawsuit against the four officers involved in his murder and the City of Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed.
Floyd, a Black man, was killed on June 25 when white former police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee down on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds while Floyd was handcuffed and restrained lying face-down.
Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, while the three other officers–Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane–who helped restrain Floyd were charged with aiding and abetting murder.
A trial date for all four officers has been set for March 8, 2021.
Fourth Amendment violations cited in lawsuit
Filed in the United States District Court of Minnesota, the lawsuit was announced in a news conference held in Minneapolis by civil rights and personal injury attorney Benjamin Crump and co-counsel Antonio Romanucci.
The lawsuit accuses the officers of violating Floyd’s Fourth Amendment (Search and Seizure) rights with their “excessive use of unjustified, excessive, illegal and deadly force” but does not specify the monetary damages it seeks for the alleged violation.
However, Crump stated that the suit’s goal is to set a precedent by making it “financially prohibitive” for police officers to “wrongfully kill marginalized people, especially Black people” in the future.
Crump also emphasized during the conference that police brutality against Black Americans was a “public health crisis”.
“This is a crisis in Black America–a public health crisis. While all of America is dealing with the public health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, Black America has to deal with another public health pandemic of police brutality.”
He went on to say that the “deliberate indifference” of Minneapolis city leaders and its police department was responsible for Floyd’s death. Highlighting problems in police training, Crump condemned the city’s “ratification” of a “culture of racism and bad behavior” in law enforcement.
“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.”
Chauvin already subject to complaints
He specified how Chauvin has had 17 complaints of excessive force against him from 2006 to 2015 but the only disciplinary action taken against him was a letter of reprimand for one of the complaints.
“It was not just the knee of officer Derek Chauvin on George’s Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds,” Crump said, “but it was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd that killed him.
“Why do you think the George Floyd killing galvanized people around the globe? It is because he was literally tortured to death, not in a third world country, but here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the United States of America in 2020.”
“This is the tipping point for policing in America,” Crump said.
In a statement, Minneapolis City Attorney Erik Nilsson called Floyd’s death a “tragedy” adding, “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.”
Crump has won over 200 police brutality civil lawsuits on behalf of the families of the victims. He is also representing the families of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
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