Ben Crump, the family’s attorney, said police brutality is a “public health crisis.”
The family of George Floyd has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Minneapolis and the police officers involved in his death.
Floyd, notes CNN, died on May 25th. He was approached by officers after a convenience store reported that he had paid for a purchase with a fake $20 bill. Despite being unarmed, Floyd was pinned to the ground by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
While straddling Floyd, Chauvin drove his knee into the man’s neck, despite Floyd repeatedly saying he could not breathe.
Floyd died shortly thereafter, his killing at the hands of Minneapolis law enforcement sparking police brutality protests nationwide.
Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
“It was not just the knee of officer Derek Chauvin on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, but it was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd that killed him,” attorney Ben Crump said in a statement. “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, adds CNN, also called instances of police brutality a “public health crisis” which disproportionately affects people of color.
“This is the tipping point for policing in America,” he said.
“Everything seems to have stopped and got shut down in America during the coronavirus pandemic except racism and discrimination and police brutality against black and brown people,” Crump said.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, claims that Chauvin and the other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest and death violated Floyd’s Fourth Amendment rights through the “excessive use of unjustified, excessive, illegal and deadly force.”
NPR notes that the other three officers who assisted Chauvin—named as J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao–have been charged with aiding and abetting murder.
While Thao did not physically engage Floyd, he stood by and did not attempt to intervene and Chauvin and his other colleagues piled atop Floyd.
Crump suggested that Floyd’s death caused a worldwide outcry because of the way in which its brutality contradicts the United States’ supposed values.
“Why do you think the George Floyd killing galvanized people around the globe?” Crump asked. “It is because he was literally tortured to death, not in a third-world country, but here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the United States of America in 2020.”
Floyd’s death sparked not only massive protests across the United States, but has led to widespread calls to defund local police departments.
Earlier this summer, the Minneapolis City Council announced that it would take steps to dismantle the police department, which will be replaced with a more community-oriented law enforcement agency.