George Floyd family files lawsuit against Minneapolis, officers

Lawyers seek an amount to be determined by a jury, hope it will be so costly as to stop future killings by police.

George Floyd’s family has filed a lawsuit 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 the city allowed a culture of excessive force, racism and impunity to flourish in its police force.

Wednesday’s lawsuit seeks compensatory and special damages in an amount to be determined by a jury. The complaint also asks for a receiver to be appointed to ensure the city properly trains and supervises its police officers in the future.

“We seek to set a precedence to make it financially prohibitive that the police won’t wrongfully kill marginalised people, especially Black people in the future,” lawyer Benjamin Crump said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. 

The complaint, emailed to Al Jazeera by Crump’s office, alleges the Minneapolis Police Department is at fault for Floyd’s death, due to its ratification of “the culture of systemic racism and disparate treatment of the Black Community”, vague and “unconstitutional” use of force policies and “Killology” training that “teaches officers to consider every person and every situation as a potential deadly threat and to kill ‘less hesitantly'”.

According to documents in state probate court, Floyd is survived by 11 known heirs, including five children and six siblings. They live in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and New York. All but one of Floyd’s children are adults. He has no living parents or grandparents.

The families of victims of other high-profile police shootings have received high payouts in Minnesota.

Last year, Minneapolis agreed to pay $20m to the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an unarmed woman who was shot by an officer after she called 911 to report hearing a possible crime happening behind her home.

The settlement came three days after the officer, Mohamed Noor, was convicted of murdering her and is believed to be the largest payout ever stemming from police violence in Minnesota.

At the time, Mayor Jacob Frey cited Noor’s unprecedented conviction and his failure to identify a threat before he used deadly force as reasons for the large settlement.

The mother of Philando Castile, a Black motorist killed by an officer in 2016, reached a nearly $3m settlement with the suburb of St Anthony, which employed the officer.

The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges.

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