The family of George Floyd filed suit Wednesday against the Minneapolis Police Department and the officers involved in his death.
The suit specifically names Police Officer Derek Chauvin — who could be seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck — as well as the three other officers who were involved in the deadly arrest of the 46-year-old man on May 25.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Minneapolis by family trustee Kaarin Nelson Schaffer, alleges that officers Thomas Lane, 37, Alexander Kueng, 26, and Chauvin dangerously kept Floyd in the face-down prone position with Chauvin kneeling on his neck for just under nine minutes — despite the fact that Floyd wasn’t resisting arrest.
And “Mr. Floyd was unconscious for approximately four of those minutes, yet the Defendant Officers not only did not help him, but continued to cause George’s death and further extinguish any chance for Mr. Floyd’s survival,” the court papers charge.
A fourth officer, Tou Thao, stood by and did nothing to stop the other three officers, even preventing concerned bystanders from intervening, the court documents claim.
This all occurred while Floyd was groaning, crying and telling them he couldn’t breathe 20 times.
All four officers have since been fired.
Chauvin, 44, was charged with murder and manslaughter while the other three officers were charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
The MPD failed to properly train and supervise its officers and has inconsistent policies and insufficient training on the practice of putting suspects in the prone position and on using a neck restraint maneuver, the court papers say.
And despite the fact that the law enforcement community knows how risky and potentially deadly the use of the neck restraint can be, “the MPD permitted and condoned the use of both conscious and unconscious neck restraints by its officers from at least April 15, 2012 until June 8, 2020,” the court documents say.
Further, the MPD had a history of failing to fire dangerous officers, overlooking racially biased policing and had prior incidents of excessive force, the court filings say.
For example, the department did not remove or discipline Lt. Bob Kroll — the head of the Minneapolis Police Federation — for allegations of publicly wearing a “white power patch” and for calling the Black Lives Matter movement a “terrorist organization,” the court papers allege.
“By refusing to terminate or discipline Kroll or denounce his ideology, Minneapolis caused officers act with impunity and without fear of retribution,” the court papers say.
“This complaint shows what we have said all along, that Mr. Floyd died because the weight of the entire Minneapolis Police Department was on his neck,” said plaintiff attorney Ben Crump.
“The City of Minneapolis has a history of policies, procedures and deliberate indifference that violates the rights of arrestees, particularly Black men, and highlights the need for officer training and discipline,” Crump said. “This is an unprecedented case, and with this lawsuit we seek to set a precedent that makes it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people — especially Black people — in the future.”
The suit is seeking unspecified damages.
“George Floyd’s death is a tragedy,” Interim Minneapolis City Attorney Erik Nilsson said in a statement. “The City is reviewing the civil lawsuit filed by his family and will be responding to it.
“Criminal charges are pending against four Minneapolis police officers and it’s very important that the criminal case proceed without interference.”
A spokesman with the MDP declined to comment.