George Floyd’s family sued Minneapolis and four police officers for wrongful death on Wednesday, alleging police violated their own rules and US Justice Department warnings by kneeling on the neck of the handcuffed Black man for nearly nine minutes.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump filed the suit seeking monetary damages on behalf of Floyd’s children and siblings with the US District Court in Minneapolis, calling the case “the tipping point for policing in America.”
“It was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd that killed him,” Crump said. “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.”
Floyd, 46, whose May 25 arrest was captured on video, pleaded for his life and said he could not breathe as a white officer knelt on his neck while other officers held him down or kept disturbed witnesses from intervening.
His death triggered nationwide street protests against police brutality and renewed the American debate about racism in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and months away from the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Coincidentally, a new video emerged on Wednesday showing the entire time the officer is kneeling on Floyd’s neck and Floyd’s last words, “Man, I can’t breathe,” CNN reported.
Minneapolis interim City Attorney Erik Nilsson called Floyd’s death a “tragedy” in a statement, saying the city was reviewing the 40-page lawsuit and would respond later.
The suit, seeking an unspecified amount in damages, names as defendants the city of Minneapolis and four officers who participated in his arrest on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, was arrested four days later. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Three other officers at the scene, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, have been charged with aiding and abetting.
Though the arrest has been widely seen through video taken by witnesses and security cameras, new images emerged Wednesday from body cameras worn by Lane and Kueng.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill allowed news organisations to view the two videos, in which Floyd is heard crying and pleading with the officers before he was pulled from a car and handcuffed, CNN reported.