The city of Minneapolis has settled a lawsuit with the family of George Floyd for $27 million, attorneys for Floyd’s family said Friday. The settlement comes almost a year after Floyd died in police custody, an event that ignited a summer of protests against police brutality.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump announced the civil settlement in a statement, calling it the “largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history.” The settlement was unanimously approved by the City Council and will be signed by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, the city said in a news release.
“George Floyd’s horrific death, witnessed by millions of people around the world, unleashed a deep longing and undeniable demand for justice and change,” Crump said in the statement. “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.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Minneapolis agreed to spend $500,000 on improvements to the intersection at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where Floyd died. That location has come to be known as “George Floyd Square,” according to the Star Tribune. Floyd’s family is going to direct how the money will be spent, according to one of its attorneys. “Every single dollar will be accounted for and be transparent, very likely through a not-for-profit,” Antonio Romanucci, one of the lawyers representing the Floyd family, said.
At a press conference Friday afternoon, Frey thanked city officials for working to reach an agreement.
“There are certain events in world history that seem to suspend time,” Frey said, “where the world stopped. And those moments tend to stick with us. Our Black community has endured deep and compounding trauma over this last year, none perhaps more acutely than George Floyd’s family.”
Floyd’s family had filed the lawsuit against the city and the four former officers involved in the Black man’s killing in federal court in July. The lawsuit accused the city of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights under the Fourth and 14th Amendments.
Floyd died in police custody on May 25 after officers responded to a call that a man had attempted to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. Video taken at the scene showed a handcuffed Floyd being restrained on the ground by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd, 46, repeatedly told the officers he couldn’t breathe, according to the video and the criminal complaint in Chauvin’s case. Floyd’s death, along with other cases of Black people being killed by police, sparked protests nationwide.
“If I could get [George] back, I would give all of this back,” Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd said at Friday’s news conference.
The settlement comes as Chauvin is set to stand trial on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death. Jury selection got underway this week, and a judge on Thursday approved prosecutors’ request to add a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, the Associated Press reported.
“Even as the trial against former Officer Derek Chauvin moves forward and the family waits for justice in the criminal courts, this settlement imparts a measure of justice that is meaningful, important and necessary,” L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for the family, said Friday. “It provides a path forward for our clients and ensures that George Floyd’s death will result in substantive, positive change.”
The amount is one of the largest settlements in a civil case involving police in recent years. Last year the family of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by police in her Louisville, Ky., apartment earlier in the year, settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Louisville for $12 million. In 2019, Minneapolis reached a $20 million settlement, the biggest in the city’s history at the time, in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer in 2017, CNN reported.
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