Minneapolis agrees to pay record-breaking $27M wrongful death settlement to George Floyd’s family while jury selection for Derek Chauvin’s murder trial is STILL going on
Minneapolis City Council on Friday agreed to pay $27million to settle wrongful death civil lawsuit from George Floyd’s family
Former Minneapolis police Sergeant Derek Chauvin was seen kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25. 2020
Shortly afterward, Floyd was pronounced dead at the scene
Chauvin is on trial in his death, three other officers will be tried on another date, all were let go by the Minneapolis Mtropolitan Poice Dept.
The Floyd family’s attorney, Ben Crump, Friday said the settlement ‘sends a powerful message that Black lives do matter and police brutality against people of color must end’
The announcement was made as jury selection resumed on fourth day in murder trial of Derek Chauvin
The ex-Minneapolis cop faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in George Floyd’s death
So far, six people have been seated, one black man and one woman of color
While bracing for anticipated roiling at the commencement of a hyper and super contentious murder trial, the city of Minneapolis on Friday agreed to pay an unprecedented $27million to settle a civil lawsuit from George Floyd’s family over his death in police custody.
The announcement was made as a seventh juror was selected for former officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial in the killing of Floyd.
The Minneapolis City Council emerged from closed session to announce the record settlement, which includes $500,000 for the neighborhood where Floyd was arrested. Victim’s rights attorney Ben Crump, flanked by Floyd family members and city officials announced the settlement and call for policy reform at a attorney held a news conference on Friday.
‘This is but one step on the journey to justice,’ Crump said.
Crump, in a prepared statement, said it was the largest pretrial civil rights settlement ever, and ‘sends a powerful message that Black lives do matter and police brutality against people of color must end.’
Floyd’s family filed the federal civil rights lawsuit in July against the city, Chauvin and three other officers charged in his death. All were let go by the Minneapolis Mtropolitan Poice Dept.
The suit alleged the officers violated Floyd’s rights when they restrained him, and that the city allowed a culture of excessive force, racism and impunity to flourish in its police force.
The lawsuit sought unspecified compensatory and special damages in an amount to be determined by a jury. It also sought a receiver to be appointed to ensure that the city properly trains and supervises officers in the future.
‘I hope that today will center the voices of the family and anything that they would like to share,’ Council President Lisa Bender said.
‘But I do want to, on behalf of the entire City Council, offer my deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd, his friends and all of our community who are mourning his loss.’
Meanwhile, a seventh juror has been seated following a lengthy voire dire that crossed over from the morning and into the afternoon session of Friday’s jury selection.
The single mother-of two, white and in her early 50s, described herself as being in the ‘C-class’ of executives and works in healthcare advocacy.
She admitted to knowing Attorney General Keith Ellison and having had work dealings with his office, but neither defense nor prosecutors viewed this as any impairment to her service.
Her selection marks the half-way point in the selection process that will see 12 jurors and two alternates seated.
She is the second woman to be seated on the panel that now consists of three white men, one Hispanic man, one black man and one bi-racial woman.
Angela Harrelson, George Floyd’s aunt, was in court to hear the juror who said that she had ‘empathy’ for both Floyd and Chauvin and that she could not believe that anybody had gone into that day with the intention of it ending as it had – with one man dead and another on trial for his murder.
Earlier today, another prospective jury member was dismissed after expressing a negative view of the former police officer.
Chauvin, dressed in a light-grey suit and black tie, appeared in Hennepin County Court in Minneapolis and was introduced to the prospective jurors by his defense attorney, Eric Nelson, before both donned their face masks and the selection process got under way.
Nelson used one of his 15 challenges to dismiss a female would-be juror, a recent college graduate, after she said she had seen bystander video of Floyd’s arrest and closely read news coverage of the case.
In response to a jury pool questionnaire, she said she had a ‘somewhat negative’ view of Chauvin, and that she thought he held his knee to Floyd’s neck for too long.
Friday’s quick dismissal echoed others earlier in the case for similar reasons. On Thursday, one woman was dismissed after she said she ‘can’t unsee the video’ of Chauvin pinning Floyd.
Nelson pressed the woman hard on whether she could be fair despite her strong opinions.
Asked how the events of last summer had affected the community, she replied: ‘Negatively affected because a life was taken. Positively because a movement has come from it and the whole world knows.’ Asked about the property damage during the unrest, she said, ‘I felt that was what needed to happen to bring this to the world’s attention.’
‘Looking in your heart and looking in your mind can you assure us you can set all of that aside, all of that, and focus only on the evidence that is presented in this courtroom?’ Nelson asked.
‘I can assure you, but like you mentioned earlier, the video is going to be a big part of the evidence and there’s no changing my mind about that,’ she replied.
Meanwhile, a man who said he has a ‘very negative’ impression of Chavuin nevertheless became the sixth juror selected for the trial on Thursday.
The man, who told attorneys he could set that aside and consider the evidence in the case, was the only juror chosen in a day most notable for the judge restoring a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.
Three of those seated on the jury panel are white, one is multiracial, one is Hispanic and one is Black, according to Judge Cahill.
Judge Cahill’s restoration of the third-degree murder charge came at the start of Thursday’s proceedings, a day after Chauvin failed to get appellate courts to block the charge, handing jurors one more option for a conviction if they choose.
Cahill had earlier rejected it as not warranted by the circumstances of Floy’ds death, but an appellate court ruling in an unrelated case established new grounds.
Two attorneys representing Floyd’s family – Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci – released a statement on Thursday praising the decision by the judge to reinstate the third-degree murder charge.
‘We’re gratified that the judge cleared the way for the trial to proceed and for Chauvin to face this additional charge,’ the two attorneys said in a statement.
‘The trial is very painful and the family needs closure. We’re pleased that all judicial avenues are being explored and that the trial will move forward.’
The sole juror picked Thursday described himself as an outgoing, family-oriented soccer fan for whom the prospect of the trial is ‘kind of exciting.
The man said he’s also a fan of true crime podcasts and TV shows. He acknowledged under questioning from Nelson, the defense attorney, that he had a ‘very negative’ impression of Chauvin.
The man wrote on his questionnaire that he had seen the widely viewed bystander video of Floyd ‘desperately screaming that he couldn’t breathe’ even as other officers stood by and bystanders shouted that Chauvin was killing him.
Yet asked whether he could set his opinions aside and stick to the evidence presented in court, he replied: ‘I’m willing to see all the evidence and everything, hear witnesses.’
Other five jurors include a white, Minnesota man in his 30s who described himself as a’ very logical person who tries to eliminate emotion as much as possible’; a married IT manager in his 30th who emigrated from West African 14 years ago and said he supported the Black Lives Matter movement. Also enpaneled were a white chemist who thinks BLM is ‘too extreme’ and hasn’t seen the Floyd video, a woman of color who is related to a police officer who thinks BLM has ‘turned into propaganda’ and a white man who works as an auditor.
The prosecution so far have made two unsuccessful attempts] to argue that the defense was striking jurors on the basis of race.
Prosecutors made a Batson challenge in response to the defense decision to exercise their first peremptory challenge of the day on Thursday on a male juror who identifies as Hispanic. The challenge alleges that potential jurors are being discriminated on the basis of race.
Rejecting the prosecution’s contention Judge Cahill said, ‘I don’t find that this was race based. The juror was very torn and you could tell he had difficulty (accepting the presumption of innocence)..and unlike any other prospective juror he described the video to a World War II occupying force.’