The Minneapolis City Council on Friday afternoon approved a $27 million settlement for the family of George Floyd. Attorneys working with Floyd’s family quickly called the payment “the largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history.”
The terms of the settlement were placed on a video screen shared by the council during its remote online meeting.
“Our family is grateful for all those who care so deeply about George’s life and our loss, and this agreement is a necessary step for all of us to begin to get some closure,” said Rodney Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, in a statement provided to Law&Crime. “George’s legacy for those who loved him will always be his spirit of optimism that things can get better, and we hope this agreement does just that – that it makes things a little better in Minneapolis and holds up a light for communities around the country.”
The 13-member council voted unanimously to accept the payment to end the civil litigation launched by Floyd’s family in Minnesota’s federal district court on July 15, 2020, which was less than two months after Floyd’s deadly encounter with city police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. The named plaintiff in the case, Kaarin Nelson Schaffer, is a Minneapolis-area attorney who served as a trustee for Floyd’s next of kin.
The lawsuit accused the Minneapolis Police Department of engaging in illegal “killology” and “warrior style” training tactics. Law&Crime covered the lawsuit in depth when it was filed last year.
“I hope that today will center [on] the voices of the family and anything they would like to share, but I do want to, on behalf of the entire city council, offer my deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd, his friends, and all of our community who are mourning his loss,” said Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender. “No amount of money can ever address the intense pain or trauma caused by this death to George Floyd’s family or to the people of our city. Minneapolis has been fundamentally changed by this time of racial reckoning, and this city council is united in working together with our community and the Floyd family to equitably reshape our City of Minneapolis.”
Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins shared similar thoughts.
“I really just want to offer my deep condolences to family as well,” Jenkins said. “This is a deeply traumatic event that unfortunately is a part of too many Black and Brown families’ realities and — you know — like you mentioned — there’s no amount of money that can replace a brother, a son, a nephew, a father, a loved one — but what we can do is continue to work towards justice and equity and equality in the City of Minneapolis. And that’s what I commit to do in honor of George Perry Floyd and so many other countless Black and Brown Minneapolitans and Americans who have lost their lives to police brutality.”
Attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci, L. Chris Stewart, Jeff Storms and others who represented Floyd’s family reacted to the deal shortly after it was approved.
“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 a statement to Law&Crime. “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.”
“We are encouraged both by the progressive police reforms already adopted and the ambitious changes city of Minneapolis leaders still hope to create,” said attorney Romanucci via the same statement. “After being identified with George Floyd for tragic reasons, Minneapolis will be remembered for progressive changes that can lead the nation in how to reform and reframe the relationship between police and communities of color.”
“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,” said attorney Stewart. “It provides a path forward for our clients and ensures that George Floyd’s death will result in substantive, positive change.”
The lawsuit accused the City of Minneapolis of depriving George Floyd’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Watch the council’s announcement of the settlement below:
Editor’s note: this piece began as a breaking news report. It has been updated substantially since its initial publication.
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