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The family of George Floyd files a lawsuit in federal court

The family of George Floyd filed a lawsuit on July 15th in federal court against the four officers involved in his death and the city of Minneapolis. The suit filed by the Floyd family alleges that George Floyd’s constitutional rights were violated and that the city “caused officers [to] act with impunity and without fear of retribution.” It also alleges that the city of Minneapolis neglected to train its police officers appropriately.

George Floyd was stopped by police on May 25th when a store owner called 911 and accused him of buying a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. The police placed him in handcuffs without incident, but later officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd down on the ground holding his knee on Floyd’s neck despite his insistence that he could not breathe. Video shows that Officer Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes while witnesses, including other Minneapolis police officers, looked on, ultimately resulting in his death.

According to the suit filed, the family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages. The lawsuit also calls for the additional appointment of a “receiver or similar authority” to confirm that the city of Minneapolis “properly trains and supervises its police officers.” Ben Crump, an attorney representing the family, stated during a press conference that “with this lawsuit, we seek to set a precedent to make it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people, especially Black people, in the future.” He went on to say, “The city of Minneapolis has a history of policies and procedures and deliberate indifference when it comes to the treatment of arrestees, especially Black men, that cries out for training and discipline.”

Also named in the lawsuit are three other officers who were at the scene. Officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng are all charged with failing to intervene and stop Officer Derek Chauvin. The suit reads that “every reasonable officer would have known that using force against a compliant, handcuffed individual who is not resisting arrest constitutes excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment,”  It goes on to state that each officer “had a duty to intervene on behalf of a citizen whose constitutional rights were being violated in their presence by another officer.”

All four officers involved with the case have been terminated from the Minneapolis police department. Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder. The three remaining officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder. Their attorneys have all declined to comment. George Floyd’s death has sparked protests and riots around the country and strengthened the Black Lives Matter movement.

Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer living in Chicago. Follow her social @beboldshineon.

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