by Scott McClallen
The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to settle George Floyd’s wrongful death lawsuit for a record $27 million.
The settlement was announced on Friday.
In a viral May 2020 video, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, causing police brutality protests worldwide. Floyd died later that night. By the end of the week, the three officers involved were fired.
Floyd was arrested for allegedly trying to spend a counterfeit $20 bill.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council President Lisa Bender, and City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins joined Floyd’s family at a 1 p.m. news conference.
“George Floyd’s horrific death, witnessed by millions of people around the world, unleashed a deep longing and undeniable demand for justice and change,” family attorney Ben Crump said in a statement. “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.”
Of the $27 million, $500,000 will be used “for the benefit of the community around 38th and Chicago” where Floyd died.
“Today’s settlement reflects our shared commitment to advancing racial justice, our sustained push for progress, our commitment to Minneapolis, and our commitment and compassion to one another,” Frey said. “We need to be unrelenting. We need to be unapologetic in our pursuit of a more equitable local government and a more just approach to community safety in our city.”
Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew, said he hopes the settlement will lead to police reform.
“Today is a huge step in the healing process. When I say healing, it’s not just the pain that our family feels. Hopefully, it’s healing in the way that policing is carried on.”
Williams said Floyd would still be alive if only the officer deescalated the situation.
Bender extended her condolences to Floyd’s family.
“We know no amount of money can ever address the intense pain and trauma caused by his death. Minneapolis has been fundamentally changed by this time of racial recogning,” Bender said. “The Minneapolis City Council is united in working together with our community with George Floyd’s family to bring about a more equitable future for our city.”
The civil lawsuit is separate from the criminal trial, where Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter.
The second-largest Minneapolis police settlement payout is from 2019 when Minneapolis settled for $20 million after a city police officer shot dead Justine Ruszczyk Damond after she called to report a possible assault in an alley.
From 2018-2020, Minneapolis paid $24.3 million in police settlements.
The most costly settlements were for police misconduct, 30 of which cost taxpayers 96% of the total cost, or $23.4 million.
This latest settlement continues a national discussion about policing techniques and a rising cost to taxpayers for million-dollar police settlements.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.