George Floyd is dead. Nothing can bring him back. The entire nation was horrified by the 9 minute video clip that showed George dying at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Everyone knows his death was preventable.
Many weeks have passed since Floyd’s death. Most of the protests have ended but that doesn’t mean the anger, frustration and horror have subsided. Throughout our great nation folks are now debating how we can improve policing in our communities.
From the smallest city halls to the halls of Congress, George’s tragic death has become the spark to finally see meaningful change. Whatever reforms are instituted, there won’t ever be a guarantee that bad policing won’t occur again. Cops are human and there will always be a few bad apples that have no business wearing a badge or patrolling our streets.
Some folks have taken to the streets to demonstrate. Others are testifying before city councils or writing letters to Congress. That’s good, everyone’s voice needs to be heard lest George have died in vain. In our little corner of the world we are trying to make a difference by holding cops and police departments accountable when the police cross the line between right and wrong.
Since George Floyd died, more folks are coming forward and seeking to file lawsuits for excessive force or wrongful death. Unfortunately, immunity laws make those cases difficult. Body cams will certainly help as will changing public attitudes. (It’s the public that sits on juries and decides these cases.)
Pursuing civil cases against bad cops and police policies is important. Just like organized and mass protests can change public opinion, hitting bad cops and municipalities in the wallet makes a difference too. It sends a message that individuals who have been mistreated simply won’t take it anymore. An apology – if one is even forthcoming – isn’t enough.
While we are on the subject of police misconduct, lest not forget the tens of thousands of people who are being mistreated in our jails. With cell phones and body cams, we see the horrors taking place on our streets. What we don’t see is the neglect taking place in our jails and prisons.
We obviously can’t take every case that comes to us. Hopefully the U.S. Supreme Court will pull back some of the immunities enjoyed by cities and cops. We are not suggesting that the police don’t have a tough job and deserve support. But they shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind broad immunities either. There has to be a balance.
When the courts provide that balance, more lawyers will step forward to represent victims of police violence and prison neglect.
George Floyd’s Arrest and Death
At 8:00 p.m. on May 25, 2020, two Minneapolis police units were dispatched to the Cup Foods corner store located on Chicago Avenue. They were responding to a call that Floyd passed or attempted to pass a counterfeit bill. There were no reports of violence or that Floyd was armed. It was a simple, routine call of a possible fraud.
Officers Lane and Kueng were the first to arrive on the scene and observed Mr. Floyd seated inside a vehicle. The two officers placed Mr. Floyd under arrest and secured both of Mr. Floyd’s hands in handcuffs behind his back without incident. Although the officers appear to say he was resisting, body cam and other video evidence show he was no threat and was not resisting. Even if he was resisting, he certainly posed no threat once he was in custody.
After being securely handcuffed, Mr. Floyd remained calm and complied with each of the officers’ commands as directed, including sitting down against a wall and walking with the officers across the street without incident. That’s when Officers Chauvin and Thao arrived on scene.
Evidence shows that Floyd told officers Lane and Keung that he was claustrophobic. For no apparent good reason, Lane then decided to force Mr. Floyd to lay face down in the street. Chauvin then kneeled directly on Floyd’s neck. That scene was captured on videos that are forever burned in the nation’s conscience.
In the many minutes that Chauvin kneeled on the dying George Floyd’s neck, George can clearly be heard saying, “Tell my kids I love them – I’m dead” and “Please, please I can’t breathe.” Even passersby on the street can be heard pleading with the officers.
As George was in his final moments, officer Thao can be heard callously telling onlookers, “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids!” When those same bystanders tried to render aid, Thao pulled out a can of mace and pointed it at the crowd.
The collective pleas for mercy were ignored. George Floyd died a horrific and completely unnecessary death.
George Floyd’s Family Sues Minneapolis and Officers - the Untold Story of What Happened
We are pleased to report that one family that is fighting back is that of the late George Floyd. On July 15th, George’s next of kin filed a lawsuit on his behalf. The civil suit is separate from the criminal charges that are pending against former officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and Alexander Keung. If convicted of the criminal charges, the officers could face lengthy prison sentences. The civil suit seeks to collect monetary damages from the officers and the city.
What happened on the street isn’t up for debate. Its on video. Even officer Lane admitted that Floyd wasn’t resisting. The civil suit, however, sheds light on what led up to the tragic events of May 25th. This is what you wont read anywhere else.
Kneeling on an arrestee’s neck was authorized by the Minneapolis Police Department until June 8th of this year. Worse, it was considered an authorized form of non-deadly force! The department trained its officers that a proper “neck restraint” required the officer to “[c]ompress veins, arteries, nerves & muscles of the neck.” That same policy authorized the use of a deadly “neck restraint” in non-deadly circumstances posing no immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death.
The City of Minneapolis possessed data indicating that since 2012, neck restraints were used by its police officers on 428 people at an average rate of about one a week.
While we all decry Chauvin’s actions in kneeling on the neck of the helpless George Floyd, training materials offered to officers and provided to Chauvin depict an officer placing a knee on the neck of an arrestee who is handcuffed in a prone position.
Although Minneapolis authorized kneeling on suspect’s neck, the U.S Department of Justice takes a different view. It has warned law enforcement for decades about the dangers of prone restraint and as early as 1995 said: “The risk of positional asphyxia is compounded when an individual with predisposing factors becomes involved in a violent struggle with an officer or officers, particularly when physical restraint includes behind-the-back handcuffing combined with placing the subject in a stomach-down position.”
We say that due to the well-known risks associated with prone restraint, officers must always move a subject once controlled from the prone position so that their breathing can be assessed. (Minneapolis Police Department has a similar policy although it is unknown of officers were trained on that policy.)
After another arrestee died in similar circumstances to that of George Floyd– one caught on an officer’s pen camera that he later hid from investigators – the Minneapolis Police Department was sued. After paying a substantial amount of money to the victim’s family, the department also agreed to provide training on positional asphyxia.
That was in 2014. We are unsure if that training was ever provided. George Floyd might still be alive if it was.
One of the reasons we encourage civil rights lawsuits against police departments is to reform bad practices and policies.
Another bad policy in Minneapolis is their failure to get rid of bad cops. This problem isn’t limited to Minneapolis.
Although discovery will take many months in the recently filed lawsuit, our preliminary information suggests that Chauvin was the subject of 17 or 18 citizen complaints between 2006 to 2015. Only once was he disciplined and that was simply a letter of reprimand. Media reports indicate he shot and killed at least three different individuals, including Wayne Reyes, Ira Latrell Toles, and Leroy Martinez while an officer. Most cops go an entire career without every shooting anyone. Chauvin has now killed seven people. (We say seven because 3 more died in a reckless police chase involving Chauvin.)
We certainly don’t place all the blame on Minneapolis’ police union but they are certainly part of the problem*. Many departments would rather pay claims than take bad cops off the street. We think union contracts should never impede a department’s ability to fire a bad cop. We also think that if every person wrongfully assaulted by those bad cops sued, these same departments wouldn’t be so eager to keep them around.
*A Minneapolis police union official allegedly stated that cops who don’t receive citizen complaints are “low-level slugs” and that “if you aren’t getting any fouls, you aren’t playing hard enough.”
George Floyd’s Lawsuit Against the City of Minneapolis
Floyd’s next of kin have filed a federal civil rights suit against Chauvin, Lane, Keung and Thao. According to his estate, "Every reasonable officer would have known that using force against a compliant, handcuffed individual who is not resisting arrest constitutes excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. None of the defendant officers ever had a reasonable
fear of imminent bodily harm, nor did they have a reasonable belief that any other person was in danger of imminent bodily danger from Mr. Floyd at any point in time."
The family is seeking monetary damages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
Are You the Victim Of Police Brutality?
There is no room in civilized society for thug behavior by our police. If you or a loved one has been wrongfully assaulted, shot, tasered, beaten, or sexually assaulted by the police, you have a right to truth, justice, and a financial remedy.
If you have been the victim of police brutality, contact us today. Finding an attorney who can fight for your civil rights can not only help you get compensation, but also benefits the entire community. To learn more Connect Online or call us at 866-836-4684.
*Cases considered anywhere in the United States. If we can’t help, we may know someone who can. We consider cases where victims died, suffered significant injuries or were sexually assaulted.