MINNEAPOLIS- Kaarin Nelson Schaffer, trustee for the next of kin of George Floyd, filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday, July 15 against the officers charged in Floyd’s death and the City of Minneapolis. The civil suit states that Schaffer demands a jury trial for:
- “George Floyd’s death”
- “Minneapolis Police Departments training that instructs its officers to use deadly force in non-deadly circumstances”
- “Prone Restraint Training by the MPD and the Death of David Smith”
“The MPD’s History of Providing and Permitting Killology Training”
“The City of Minneapolis and the MPD’s Failure to Terminate Dangerous Officers”
- “The MPD’s History of Overlooking Racially Biased Policing”
- “The City of Minneapolis’s Notice of Prior Incidents of Excessive Force”
- “U.S.C. §1983 – Fourth Amendment Violations.”
The civil suit accuses Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and the City of Minneapolis of excessive use of unjustified, excessive, illegal and deadly force. Allegations in the suit state that ,”The conduct by the officers identified in George Floyd’s death constituted excessive and deadly force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and clearly established law.”
The suit alleges that The Minneapolis Police Department trained its officers to identify a “neck restraint” as an authorized form of the use of non-deadly force. The complaint argues that The Fourth Amendment prohibits the use of deadly force in non-deadly circumstances that do not pose an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death. The Minneapolis Police Department defined a neck restraint as “compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway.”
According to the Floyd’s family attorney, Ben Crump, “The United States Department of Justice has warned law enforcement for decades about the dangers of positional asphyxia.” Positional asphyxia occurs when an individual with predisposing factors becomes involved in a violent struggle with an officer or officers, particularly when physical restraint includes behind-the-back handcuffing combined with placing the subject in a stomach-down position.
The Minneapolis Police Department Policy & Procedure Manual § 9-111.01 states:
When any restraint technique is used on a subject, the subject shall not be left in a prone position and shall be placed on their side as soon as they are secured. Once the subject is secured, an officer shall watch for any of the following signs:
- Significant change in behavior or level consciousness
- Shortness of breath or irregular breathing
- Seizures or convulsions
- Complaints of serious pain or injury
- Any other serious medical problem.
The suit alleges that The City of Minneapolis permitted officers to receive “Killology” or “warrior style” training that teaches officers to consider every person and every situation as a potential deadly threat. According to court documents, officers were not provided official training for positional or mechanical asphyxia associated with prone restraint. High-ranking officers and agents of The Minneapolis Police offered “Killology” training to all officers.
According to the allegations filed against The City of Minneapolis, The City acted with “deliberate indifference to the rights of arrestees, detainees, and the like, participated in contract negotiations with the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis that granted officers powers that allowed them to avoid discipline for misconduct”. Contract negotiations with the Police Officers Federation included the ability to review evidence and video footage prior to giving statements in use of force and misconduct matters.
The lawsuit does not specify the damages the family is seeking. Court documents indicate that ,”Punitive damages are available against [defendant] Chauvin and are hereby claimed as a matter of federal common law. Plaintiff is entitled to recovery of costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, under 42 U.S.C. § 1988.”
Plaintiff Kaarin Nelson Schaffer is an attorney duly licensed to practice before the State and Federal Courts of Minnesota. On July 6, 2020, Schaffer was appointed as trustee for George Floyd’s next of kin. Mr. Floyd is survived by next of kin including his children and siblings.