On March 12, the Minneapolis City Council voted 13-0 to approve a $27 million wrongful death settlement with the Floyd family over George Floyd’s death last May.
This marks one of the largest police misconduct payouts in history. The video of Floyd’s gruesome death as he lay pinned under the knee of a White police officer resulted in nationwide protests.
In Minneapolis, the unrest led to the burning of a police station, among dozens of other buildings set on fire. Approximately five miles of the city experienced great damage. The attorney for Floyd’s family said the unprecedented settlement amount sent a message that the unjust killings of Black people should not be written off as trivial or “unworthy of consequences.”
Floyd died on May 25. His family filed their lawsuit on July 15, alleging the police officers violated Floyd’s civil rights. After the settlement was announced, lawyers for Floyd’s family said that while the Minneapolis Police Department had undergone some changes since George’s death, they will push for further reforms. That includes reviewing all use of force incidents by a panel, and a system relying on analytics for identifying problem officers.
According to Minneapolis officials, the settlement payout will come from a self-insurance fund. That fund has been depleted in recent years by settlements totaling tens of millions of dollars for police-related lawsuits. Those lawsuits include the $20 million paid to the family of Justine Damon, shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer in 2017.
Police Officer on Trial for Murder and Manslaughter
Former police officer Derek Chauvin, currently standing trial in Floyd’s killing, is charged with second-and-third-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder. In August, three other former officers involved in Floyd’s demise are scheduled to go on trial.
The settlement could impact Chauvin’s criminal trial. Seating an impartial jury may prove difficult, and jury selection is currently underway. According to the city’s former chief public defender, Chauvin’s lawyers could request a mistrial. She notes that jurors would hear of the settlement amount, even if trying to avoid listening to the news.
The judge has warned against public comment on the case, which is one reason the Floyd family and city officials made little mention of the trial after the settlement. To date, seven jurors have been impaneled. Those consist of four Whites, a Black male, a Hispanic male, and a multi-racial female. The trial is expected to begin on March 29.
$500,000 for Neighborhood Uplift
Included in the settlement is $500,000 for the purpose of uplifting the neighborhood around Chicago Avenue and 38th Street, the site of Floyd’s killing. It is now known as George Floyd Square.
The police confronted him on that corner after a convenience store clerk called 911 to report that Floyd had attempted to pay for cigarettes with a fake $20 bill.
Chauvin then handcuffed Floyd and held him pinned to the ground under his knee for nearly nine minutes, as per the infamous video.