Mpls settlement comes at funny time
Last Friday, Minneapolis city leaders approved a mammoth $27 million settlement in a civil suit brought by the family of George Floyd. It is the largest pre-trial settlement of its kind anywhere in the nation. It’s a huge amount of money, far surpassing the $20 million settlement the city approved for the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, killed by former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor when she approached his police car in the dark after calling 911 to report a possible sexual assault in progress.
In that case, like the Floyd case, the officer accused of the killing was charged with murder. Unlike that case, the city council didn’t wait until after the murder trial to settle the civil suit. They did it while the trial is going on, in the middle of jury selection.
As one would expect, the defense attorneys for ex-police officer Derek Chauvin, accused in Floyd’s trial, asked for a continuance on Monday. The settlement is bound to have an impact on the trial. What are the potential jurors, and the seven who hav already been seated, to think about this $27 million payment to the family of the man whose death they are asked to rule on? We’re sure the language in the settlement includes the obligatory “the city does not admit culpability” clause, but this is, in fact, a massive admission that one of the city’s police officers acted very badly and probably caused the death of George Floyd. Chauvin has been thrown under the bus.
There is little doubt that the city would be found liable for damages in a court trial, and with the notoriety of George Floyd’s death, $27 million might be a suitable payment.
Frankly, it might be better if the city spent the money it has paid out in settlements for Chauvin and Noor for better screening and training of its police officers.