Minneapolis (AFP) - The family of George Floyd whose murder by a Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests announced Wednesday that they are suing the city for his death.
Attorney Benjamin Crump said the family filed the wrongful death lawsuit in the Federal District Court in Minneapolis, even as the four officers involved in the Floyd's death have yet to go on trial on murder and related charges.
Floyd died on May 25 when now-fired officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to his neck for more than eight minutes after the 46-year-old black man was detained for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery.
Much of the country was stunned by a bystander video which showed Floyd pleading for his life, saying "I can't breathe," before he went limp and died.
Floyd's death touched off riots and demonstrations in Minneapolis, neighboring Saint Paul and across the country over police mistreatment of African-Americans.
"It was not just the knee of Officer Derek Chauvin on George Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, but it was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd that killed him," Crump said in front of the federal courthouse in Minneapolis.
Floyd's family did not say how much in damages they are asking.
But the civil lawsuit has the potential to bring them millions of dollars if they can prove that the city's policies are at fault for the behavior of Chauvin and the other officers involved.
In May 2019, Minneapolis was ordered to pay $20 million to the family of a yoga teacher killed by a police officer as she sat in her car.
"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, that cries out for training and discipline," Crump told reporters.
"This is an unprecedented case, and with this lawsuit, we seek to set a precedent to make it financially prohibitive that the police won't wrongfully kill marginalized people, especially black people, in the future."
Crump called Floyd's case a "tipping point for policing in America."
"While all of America is dealing with the public health crisis of the corona virus epidemic, black America has to deal with another public health pandemic of police brutality," he said.
Chauvin, 44, remained at a maximum-security prison in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Three other fired officers who either helped hold Floyd down or stood guard are charged with abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. All three have posted $750,000 bail.