As Derek Chauvin stood trial over the death of George Floyd, the family of the victim sued the city and received a historic settlement. The family of Floyd filed the lawsuit against Minneapolis and alleged that the city and police violated his civil rights. With a conviction for Chauvin, some experts worry the civil lawsuit could be grounds for an appeal.
George Floyd’s Death
Minneapolis officers arrested Floyd on May 25, 2020, after a convenience store clerk called the police. The clerk suspected Floyd used a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase cigarettes. He resisted the arrest and became distressed. Officer Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
As Floyd begged for mercy and told the officer he couldn’t breathe, Chauvin continued to kneel on him until after an ambulance arrived. The paramedics could not revive him. The story of Floyd’s death triggered protests worldwide and became a turning point in the movement to reform policing.
The Family’s Settlement
Officer Chauvin went to trial, accused of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The jury found him guilty on all counts. The charges come with maximum sentences of 40, 25, and 10 years.
In addition to the criminal case against Chauvin, the family of George Floyd began a civil lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and the four police officers involved in the arrest. The city council members discussed the case privately but publicly announced it would pay a settlement of $27 million.
The previous highest such settlement was $20 million paid to the family of a woman killed by the police in 2019. The settlement for Floyd includes $500,000 to go to the neighborhood in which he died. The city has not announced how it would spend that money.
The lawsuit against Minneapolis was over civil rights. Floyd’s family and their attorneys argued that the city violated Floyd’s civil rights by arresting him and using excessive force. They also argued that the city and the department allowed a culture of racism to flourish among officers.
They hope the settlement will send a message to other cities and police departments. They want departments to make significant changes to policing to avoid deaths like Floyd’s in the future.
How the Settlement Could Lead to an Appeal
There was some concern that the settlement could have a negative impact on the prosecution of Chauvin in the criminal trial. Some people believed the news of the settlement could affect the jury’s decision.
Now there is concern that the settlement could lead to an appeal of the verdict and conviction. Chauvin’s attorneys may claim that the settlement tainted the trial, rendering it invalid. They may argue that the jury was prejudiced because of the news of the settlement reached with the family. Chauvin’s chances of overturning the jury verdict are slim, but it is still possible.
The settlement for the family represents a different type of justice from the criminal case. It sends a clear message that excessive force and racism are ongoing problems in police departments, not just in Minneapolis but around the country.