Posted on March 15, 2021

George Floyd’s Family to Receive Record $27 Million in Settlement

Holly Bailey and Toluse Olorunnipa, Washington Post, March 12, 2021

The city of Minneapolis will pay a record $27 million to the family of George Floyd to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit related to his death last year in police custody, a deal that could also have an impact on the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged in his killing.

The payout, one of the largest of its kind involving police misconduct, was approved Friday in an unanimous vote by the Minneapolis City Council in a last-minute addition to the agenda of the panel’s regular meeting. The settlement is the highest ever paid by the city, eclipsing the $20 million paid in 2019 to the family of Justine Damond, who was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer in 2017.

Floyd’s family and their legal team welcomed the settlement, saying the record amount was vindication for Floyd and the Black Americans who took to the nation’s streets demanding social justice in the aftermath of the 46-year-old’s death after he was pinned beneath the knee of a White police officer.

“This historic agreement — the largest pretrial settlement in a police civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history — makes a statement that George Floyd deserved better than what we witnessed on May 25, 2020,” attorney Ben Crump said at a news conference with members of Floyd’s family and city officials. “That George Floyd’s life matters, and by extension, Black lives matter.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D), standing with Floyd’s family and legal team during the news conference, said the city would go beyond the monetary settlement to implement major policy changes in the pursuit of racial justice.

“Our Black community has endured deep and compounding trauma over this last year, none perhaps more acutely than George Floyd’s family standing with me right now,” he said, adding: “Amid unprecedented pain, we now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to truly effectuate change.”


But the settlement could have implications for the criminal trial of Chauvin, who is charged with second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after holding his knee on Floyd’s neck on May 25. {snip}


As jury selection for Chauvin’s trial began this week, Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, sought to block mention of any possible payout by the city to the Floyd’s family, arguing it would be prejudicial.

Some legal observers said publicity over the settlement, which came on day four of jury selection, could result in a possible mistrial.

“I think it’s a potential disaster for Chauvin,” said Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender for Hennepin County. She said if she were Chauvin’s attorney, she would request a mistrial.


A Minneapolis official said the city had been concerned that the announcement could affect the trial.

The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the city consulted with Hennepin County Chief District Judge Toddrick S. Barnette, who told the city it could proceed. {snip}

While Floyd’s family and the city’s leaders largely avoided commenting on the trial during the new conference — in part because the judge has warned against public comment on the case — the family’s lawyers said their concern was justice, in whatever form. Crump said he had less faith in the “discriminatory criminal justice system.” He said history shows there is “no guarantee” that a White officer will be convicted of killing a Black man.


Settlement amounts in fatal police shootings vary widely. In a 2015 Washington Post account of awards in civil lawsuits, payouts ranged from $7,500 to $8.5 million.


In September, the city of Louisville announced a $12 million settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police executing a no-knock search warrant at her apartment in March 2020. {snip}

The Floyd family settlement includes $500,000 to benefit the area in Minneapolis near where Floyd died — now widely known as George Floyd Square — and to execute necessary documents to process the agreement.