Minneapolis agrees to pay $27m to George Floyd’s family

The city council voted unanimously to settle the lawsuit brought by Floyd’s family following his death during an arrest last year.

George Floyd's family rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, August 28, 2020 [File: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo]

The Minneapolis, Minnesota city council voted unanimously on Friday to pay $27m to settle a lawsuit filed by George Floyd‘s family.

In July, Floyd’s family sued the city and the four police officers charged in his death last May.

The suit alleged 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.

Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd said in a statement that she and her family were “pleased that this part of our tragic journey to justice for my brother George is resolved”.

“While our hearts are broken, we are comforted in knowing that even in death, George Floyd showed the world how to live,” her statement said, according to the Reuters news agency.

The Floyd family, led by their lawyer Ben Crump, hold their fists up outside the Hennepin County Family Justice Center during a court hearing for police officers charged in death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 11, 2020 [File: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters]

Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer, said, “It’s not just enough for America to say that George Floyd’s life matters. We have to show that George for life matters by actions, is not just enough for America to say that Black lives matter. We have to show that Black lives matter by our actions.”

“We applaud this responsible city leadership and we urge everybody to practise responsible leadership in remaining calm and engaging in peaceful protests for George Floyd,” Crump added.

Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Chicago, called it “one of the largest settlements you could find. But the family says they aren’t just looking for a monetary settlement.” Hendren reports the family wanted reforms and justice in the cases of the four officers accused in Floyd’s death.

“The settlement is not just historic because of the $27 million paid out, but for the impact on social justice policy reforms and police reforms … that affect all of us,” Crump said.

“This is a deeply traumatic event that, unfortunately, is a part of too many Black and brown families’ realities,” Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said after the vote, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“There is 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,” Jenkins continued.

Protesters gather at a memorial for George Floyd where he died outside Cup Foods on East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, June 1, 2020 [File: John Minchillo/AP Photo]

The $27m settlement also includes a $500,000 contribution from the Floyd family to the neighbourhood where Floyd died.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25 after officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe” and bystanders implored the officers to let him go.

Along with Chauvin, two other officers held Floyd to the ground while he was handcuffed. Floyd was arrested on suspicion of his using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a Minneapolis grocery store.

Floyd’s death sparked protests in Minneapolis and across the US and led to a nationwide reckoning on racial justice.

The settlement comes as jury selection continues in the trial of Chauvin, who was fired from the police force and faces charges of third-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. Opening arguments in his trial are expected to begin later this month.

The three other officers involved in Floyd’s killing, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng were also fired and are expected to go on trial together in August. They are charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies