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Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed by George Floyd's Family Calls Killings by Police a 'Public Health Cris

Attorney Ben Crump hugs his legal team as they leave after a press conference outside the federal courthouse on July 15, 2020, in Minneapolis. Crump announced filing a civil lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and police officers, on behalf of the family of George Floyd.
A combination of booking photos of former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, center, Tou Thao, right, Thomas Lane, top left, and J Alexander Kueng, lower left. (Courtesy of Hennepin County sheriff’s office)

Attorneys for the family of George Floyd filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Wednesday against the city of Minneapolis and the police officers involved in his death, calling the killing part of "a public health crisis" in Black America.

Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed Black man, died May 25 after former officer Derek Chauvin used his leg to pin Floyd's neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes.

Chauvin, 44, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

"It was not just the knee of officer Derek Chauvin on George's 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. Chauvin held his knee on Floyd for 7 minutes and 46 seconds, prosecutors have told CNN, correcting the longer period listed in the initial criminal complaint.

"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 said.

Crump called the killing of Black people by police "a public health crisis" that has disproportionately affected people of color the same way as the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is the tipping point for policing in America," he said.

Crump added, "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."

The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Minnesota, outlines what it calls critical problems with police training, and the city's knowledge and "ratification" of a "culture of racism and bad behavior" in the police.

"This was nothing new for the city of Minneapolis," Crump told reporters, citing what he said was the "deliberate indifference" of elected officials to police brutality.

Minneapolis City Attorney Erik Nilsson in a statement called Floyd's death a "tragedy." He said the city was reviewing the suit and will be responding to it. Referring to the charges against the officers, Nilsson said "it's very important that the criminal case proceed without interference."

Crump called Floyd's killing torture.

"Why do you think the George Floyd killing galvanized people around the globe?" he 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."

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