On March 12, the city of Minneapolis reached a settlement with the family of George Floyd for $27 million due to his death during a police arrest.
Ben Crump, attorney of the Floyd family, called this the largest pretrial settlement ever for a civil rights claim.
Council members unanimously voted in support of the settlement, which surpassed the $20 million settlement approved by Minneapolis two years ago for the family of a white woman killed by a police officer.
According to the Associated Press, “The settlement includes $500,000 for the south Minneapolis neighborhood that includes the 38th and Chicago intersection that has been blocked by barricades since his death, with a massive metal sculpture and murals in his honor. The city didn’t immediately say how that money would be spent.”
Floyd’s death sparked a national movement, bringing awareness to racial injustice.
“The one thing we know as Black people…is there is no guarantee that a police officer will be convicted for killing a Black person unjustly in our country,” Crump said. “That’s what history has taught us.”
City Council President Lisa Bender spoke about the settlement, saying “no amount of money” can bring back a life.
“I do not believe that any amount of money can be given to bring justice to an unwarranted death,” said senior Thomas Lawless. “Unfortunately, million-dollar settlements cannot and will not address the systemic issue of police brutality in our country.”
George Floyd was declared dead on May 25, 2020 at the hands of a white officer, Derek Chauvin. Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for just short of nine minutes, while complying with arrest.
“Any force used must be reasonable and necessary to accomplish the officer’s lawful goal,” said criminal justice Prof. Anthony Papa. “If the person in custody is seriously injured or dies, it should be investigated by some governing body other than the police department, such as a Grand Jury.”
Floyd’s family proceeded to take action by filing the federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, Chauvin and three other officers who were involved. These officers violated Floyd’s rights and used excessive force sparked by racism.
“Police officers need to constantly receive use of force training, which includes reinforcing a force continuum, which promotes the use of less than lethal force by engaging in deadly physical force,” said Papa. “Officers also need to constantly be retrained in sensitivity.”
All officers involved in the incident were fired. It has not yet been confirmed whether Chauvin will testify in his own defense, while the other three officers face trial in August on aiding and abetting charges.
“I am looking forward to the police officer to be indicted on all counts of his charges,” said Lawless. “I hope that states will begin to pass legislation that takes a critical look into how they are currently policing and address what needs to be addressed.”
Crump expressed that the settlement resembles an effort to improve justice rather than waiting for legal system conclusions that have lost the trust of many Blacks.
“We need to deeply consider a systemic approach that reevaluates our justice system and how we police in order to bring justice and maintain justice for all people,” said Lawless.