Minneapolis’s city council voted unanimously Friday to award a $27 million settlement to the family of George Floyd in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed over his death last year while in police custody.
Family attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and other co-counsel hailed the agreement as “the largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history.”
It includes $500,000 to be directed to enhance the business district in Minneapolis at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where Floyd died.
The legal team praised police reforms adopted by the city after Floyd’s death and pledged support for further reforms.
“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. “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.”
Floyd, a 42-year-old Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest attempt. Video of the incident, captured by onlookers, showed Floyd repeatedly telling the officer that he couldn’t breathe.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, was subsequently fired and charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Jury selection in the criminal trial began Monday.
Floyd’s death spurred worldwide protests and unrest over the summer as police reform and racial equality became hot-button issues throughout the U.S.
The civil lawsuit, filed in July, charged the city as well as Chauvin and the other Minneapolis police officers on the scene — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng — in Floyd’s death.
“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, brother of George Floyd. “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 city of Minneapolis adopted sweeping police reforms, including comprehensive use-of-force reporting, a requirement to keep body-worn cameras on all the time, a policy for officers to de-escalate nonthreatening encounters with citizens by disengaging or walking away, and recruitment of officers based on a holistic evaluation that favors those who live in the areas they would police and who have social service experience.
“We are encouraged both by the progressive police reforms already adopted and the ambitious changes city of Minneapolis leaders still hope to create,” Romanucci said in the 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.”