MINNEAPOLIS – George Floyd's family filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Minneapolis and the four police officers charged in his death, alleging the officers violated Floyd's rights when they restrained him and that the city allowed a culture of excessive force, racism and impunity to flourish in its police force.
The lawsuit came the same day that members of a city charter commission took public comments on a proposal to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department. Many residents strongly favored putting the proposal to a citywide vote in November.
The civil rights lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, was announced by attorney Ben Crump and other lawyers representing Floyd's family members. It seeks compensatory and special damages in an amount to be determined by a jury. It also asks for a receiver to be appointed to ensure that the city properly trains and supervises officers in the future.
“This complaint shows what we have said all along, that Mr. Floyd died because the weight of the entire Minneapolis Police Department was on his neck,” Crump said in a statement. “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."
Crump said the lawsuit seeks to set a precedent "that makes it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people — especially Black people — in the future.”
Mayor Jacob Frey's office said he couldn't comment on pending litigation. Interim City Attorney Erik Nilsson said the city is reviewing the lawsuit and will respond to it.
Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers at the scene — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Kueng — are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.
All four officers were fired the day after Floyd's death, which set off protests that spread around the world and turned into a national reckoning on race in America.