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George Floyd's family files civil lawsuit against Minneapolis, 4 police officers

Attorney Ben Crump said, "It was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd that killed him."

The family of George Floyd has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against the City of Minneapolis and the four officers charged in connection to his May 25 death, saying the city has a history of policies that violate the rights of people who are arrested, especially Black men. 

Attorney Ben Crump announced the "federal wrongful death civil rights lawsuit" at a news conference Wednesday, saying it wasn't the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin that killed Floyd, "it was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd that killed him."

The lawsuit names the four former officers charged in Floyd's death – Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng – and the City of Minneapolis. The plaintiff is Minnesota attorney Kaarin Nelson Schaffer, who was named trustee for the Floyd family on July 6.

“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. This is an unprecedented case, and with this lawsuit we seek to set a precedent that makes it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people – especially Black people – in the future," Crump said in a news release.

The lawsuit says Floyd was deprived his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and is seeking compensatory and special damages and costs in an amount to be determined by a jury. It also asks for a receiver or similar authority be appointed to ensure the city properly trains and supervises its police officers and for additional relief that the court believes is just. 

“The Floyd family deserves justice for the inhumane way in which officers with the Minneapolis Police Department killed Mr. Floyd,” attorney L. Chris Stewart said in a statement. “Furthermore, the city has a responsibility to acknowledge the history and practices of excessive force and impunity with its police force, as well as shortfalls in officer training and discipline.”

The lawsuit lists several claims against Minneapolis, saying Floyd died as a direct result of the acts and omissions by the city. 

Among the claims the lawsuit makes: 

  • The city failed to properly train and supervise its officers, including matters related to use of force during arrests and intervention in the excessive use of force by fellow officers.
  • The city was aware it needed more and different training for its officers, but it failed to provide it.
  • The city's failure to train was behind the acts of the four officers charged in Floyd's death and as a direct result of the city's omissions Floyd died.
  • The city tolerated and failed to correct practices that condoned and required officers to turn a blind eye and not intervene with the use of excessive force by officers and required officers to treat members of the Black community differently.
  • It also states the city participated in contract negotiations with the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis that gave officers powers that allowed them to avoid discipline for misconduct, including a grievance process that resulted in a nearly 50 percent rate of overturns of terminations of officers. 
  • The city failed to correct or promoted its agents, such as Lt. Bob Kroll, the head of the police union, providing "improper and harmful training to officers and caused officers to act with impunity and without fear of retribution."
  • The lawsuit also mentions that the city continued to employ Chauvin and Thao even after their repeated improper conduct. 

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