George Floyd said "I can't breathe" more than 20 times while Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck

By Harriet Sokmensuer
July 15, 2020 03:10 PM
Advertisement
George Floyd
Facebook

The family of George Floyd is suing the city of Minneapolis and the four ex-police officers charged in connection with his death.

On Wednesday, attorneys for the Floyd family announced they had filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking damages. The suit alleges the city was responsible for Floyd's death and also a "police culture of excessive force, racism and impunity," according to a press release obtained by PEOPLE.

Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died May 25 after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. During this time, Floyd, who police accused of trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill, said, "I can't breathe" more than 20 times.

His death was ruled a homicide.

"The complaint states Mr. Floyd was deprived, under color of state law, of his clearly established rights as secured by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution," the press release states. "The complaint is seeking compensatory and special damages and costs as defined under federal law in an amount to be determined by a jury. The complaint also asks for the appointment of a receiver or similar authority to ensure that the City of Minneapolis properly trains and supervises its police officers, and for any other additional relief that the Court believes is just and equitable."

Floyd's family says it is seeking justice on behalf of all people victimized by police brutality.

"For decades, the Minneapolis Police Department’s practices have unlawfully stolen the basic liberties of Black citizens, leaving them afraid and unable to breathe,” co-counsel Antonio Romanucci said in a statement. “The most recent example of this is the brutal, public, and unjustifiable killing of Mr. Floyd by police officers under the color of state law, which galvanized a nation to demand real change and achieve real justice.”

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Floyd's death sparked mass protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder. The other three officers present at his killing — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — face criminal charges as well.

None of the former officers has entered a plea. All four appeared in court June 29 when they all waived their right to a speedy trial, which is scheduled to begin in the spring, the New York Times reported.

Lawyers for all four of the officers objected to "multiple inappropriate public comments" they say were made by local officials that could influence jurors who might be called upon to judge the officers' conduct, according to a motion urging court proceedings to be broadcast. Otherwise, the attorneys have declined to comment to the media about the case.

It was not immediately clear if the officers have retained civil attorneys who could respond to the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for the city of Minneapolis could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

• ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.