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Minneapolis pays out $9 million in settlements for police misconduct

Body camera footage from an incident where John Pope was violently restrained by former MPD Officer Derek Chauvin.

(Via Robin & Kaplan LLC)

The Minneapolis City Council settled two lawsuits Thursday morning in a unanimous vote, allotting close to $9 million for the actions of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

Both settlements involved Chauvin using excessive force, and using the knee-on-the-neck restraint that killed George Floyd in May 2020. Chauvin’s actions have cost the City of Minneapolis more than $35 million dollars; the city settled with the Floyd family for $27 million.

Over the past 5 years, Minneapolis has paid out more than $60 million in taxpayer money for police abuse and misconduct.

“I think that one of the things that we do when we’re trying to address our traumas, is I think our bodies protect us sometimes by making us forget what those feelings felt like,” Minneapolis Council Member Jeremiah Ellison said after adopting the resolution to settle the two cases. “If those feelings are at the top of your mind at all times, you just can’t function … [but] We need to allow the rage of those feelings to help inform and shape how we move forward.”

One lawsuit accused Chauvin of striking 14-year-old John Pope with a flashlight in 2017, before holding him down for 15 minutes while Pope cried out that he couldn’t breathe. At least eight officers were named in the lawsuit, which alleged that they saw Chauvin kneeling on Pope’s neck, but did nothing to stop the restraint. Pope will receive a $7.5 million settlement.

Video of the incident was released after the settlement was agreed to, despite objections from the officers and the city. Magistrate Judge Tony Leung wrote in his decision that he authorized the video release because “police use of force is an issue of significant national public interest.”

A second lawsuit, which is being settled for $1.375 million, alleged Chauvin pinned Zoya Code’s arms above her head while she was restrained, also in 2017. He then slammed her head to the ground before kneeling on her neck for almost five minutes. Code alleges a second officer on the scene failed to intervene.

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