The long struggle for equal justice for all Americans has reached a fever pitch that promises real change in the coming months and years. Unfortunately, the movement was sparked by the death of George Floyd due to brutal policing tactics. Attorney Ben Crump has taken up the George Floyd case, along with the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, in order to drive a movement toward equality, police reform, and justice for communities of color.
The Murder of George Floyd
Imagine being killed over $20. George Floyd’s death was sparked by a 911 call that accused him of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a Minneapolis deli, according to reports from the New York Times. Police officers arrived and, within a mere 17 minutes, George Floyd had lost consciousness. Officer Derek Chauvin used tactics in violation of the Minneapolis Police Department’s policies. Chauvin pinned Mr. Floyd to the ground with his knee pressed against Mr. Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Video of the incident shows that Chauvin did not let up even when Mr. Floyd lost consciousness and could not possibly be construed as resisting.
The image of a white police officer’s knee pressing a black man’s neck until he could not breathe and eventually passed away has captured the attention of people across the nation, leading to protests in all 50 states and a nationwide demand for racial equality and justice.
Attorney Ben Crump Gets Involved
A pioneer and fierce advocate for justice, equality, and civil rights, attorney Ben Crump quickly took on George Floyd’s case, as well as the murder of 25-year old Ahmaud Arbery by a father-son vigilante team and the murder of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician, by police intruding into her home.
These cases rightfully sparked outrage over police brutality and overreach, as well as the lack of police discipline, as officers routinely are put on paid leave or receive proverbial slaps on the wrist after these kinds of heinous acts. Below is a timeline, to be updated weekly, of the events that have since transpired in the George Floyd case and our country’s push to eradicate systemic racism in our police and power structures.
The George Floyd Legal Team
Ben Crump, Lead Attorney
President & Founder | Ben Crump Law
William Pintas, Chief Legal Strategist
Partner | Pintas & Mullins Law
Chief Strategist | Ben Crump Law
Scott Carruthers, Attorney
Managing Partner | Ben Crump Law
Chris O’Neal, Attorney
Partner & Chief Integration Officer | Ben Crump Law
Antonio M. Romanucci, Co-Counsel
Founding Partner | Romanucci & Blandin, LLC
Jeff Storms, Co-Counsel
Partner | Newmark Storms Dworak LLC
Laura J. Mullins, Attorney
Partner | Pintas & Mullins Law
Devon M. Jacob, Co-Counsel
Owner & Attorney | Jacob Litigation, Inc.
Aleah Severin, Attorney
Attorney | Pintas & Mullins Law
A Timeline of Events
This section will be updated on a weekly basis to keep you informed of the major events in the George Floyd case and related civil rights movement.
Feb. 23, 2020: Ahmaud Arbery Is Murdered
While jogging in a Georgia residential neighborhood, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery is gunned down by a (white) father and son team who reportedly yelled racial slurs after shooting Arbery, according to CNN.
March 13, 2020: Breonna Taylor Is Murdered
After breaking into her home, police officers engaged in a shootout with Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, who claimed that he believed the police officers to be armed intruders. In an era in which killers like George Zimmerman have avoided justice using the “stand your ground” law, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police officers who allegedly failed to announce themselves before breaking into her apartment. After her boyfriend, who is licensed to carry a firearm, shot at what he suspected were burglars, according to NBC News, the unannounced police officers fired 20 rounds into the apartment, murdering Ms. Taylor.
May 25, 2020: George Floyd Is Murdered
On May 25th, Mr. Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin cutting off his airways for nearly nine minutes. Combined with the outrage over the senseless killings of Ms. Taylor and Mr. Arbery, George Floyd’s death motivated crowds in every state to protest against police violence.
May 26, 2020: Ongoing Protests
Peaceful protests, punctuated by occasional bouts of rioting and/or looting on isolated occasions, continue to occur around the nation. Citizens are demanding justice, appropriate punishment for officers involved in these murders, and lowered funds for police departments in an effort to demilitarize the police.
May 29, 2020: Chauvin Charged
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, which has since been upgraded to second-degree charges, according to ABC News. If found guilty, he will face a sentence of up to 35 years in prison.
June 2, 2020: Ben Crump Speaks on CNN
Attorney Ben Crump appeared on CNN, urging for Chauvin’s initial charges to be upgraded to first-degree murder and for the remaining (former) officers to be charged as well. While calling for peaceful protests and an end to violence, Mr. Crump acknowledged the upwelling of righteous anger and continues to push for justice.
June 3, 2020: Other Officers Charged
The three remaining police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd were subsequently fired from the police force. Officers who stood by and watched as Chauvin kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes were charged with second-degree aiding and abetting felony murder as well as second-degree aiding and abetting manslaughter. The four await trial.
June 3, 2020: Ben Crump Speaks to ABC News
Following the charges against the former officers who watched as George Floyd was murdered, Attorney Ben Crump called for the nation to “take a breath” for peace and justice. “Let’s take a breath to heal this country,” Mr. Crump said.
June 4: The George Floyd Memorial Service
A memorial service was held for George Floyd on Thursday, June 4th. Attorney Ben Crump was present for the historic moment, as pictured below.
June 8, 2020: Public Viewing
A public viewing for George Floyd was held in Houston, Texas at the Fountain of Praise Church, where members of the public paid their respects to this murdered man who has become a symbol for progress, equality, and reform. Mr. Floyd is expected to be buried in Houston next to his mother.
Attorney William Pintas Joins the Fight for Justice
At the request of George Floyd’s family in early June, respected attorney William Pintas has joined the Ben Crump legal team as Chief Legal Strategist. He will work alongside Ben Crump to gather evidence and formulate a plan to get the George Floyd family the recognition, compensation, and justice they deserve.
June 9, 2020: George Floyd Is Buried
As anticipated, Mr. Floyd was laid to rest on June 9, 2020, in Houston, where his mother is also interred. Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather paid the family’s funeral expenses.
June 12, 2020: Minneapolis City Council Announcement
As reported by CNN, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to dismantle the current policing system and replace it with a “transformative model.” The specifics of the plan are still under consideration, but the council expressed the belief that the current system is not reformable and needs total replacement.
June 15, 2020: Released Transcripts Show Concern
On Monday, June 15, 2020, audio transcripts were released, showing a 911 dispatcher and two unidentified callers expressing concern over the treatment of George Floyd. The 911 dispatcher, who was monitoring surveillance cameras that captured George Floyd’s murder, reported to his supervisor that “I don’t know if they had to use force or not,” and remarked, “call me a snitch if you want to.”
Two other people called in the incident, including a firefighter, who said, “I literally watched police officers not take a pulse and not do anything to save a man, and I am a first responder myself, and I literally have it on video camera.” The second unidentified caller told the 911 operator that the police “just killed this guy that wasn’t resisting arrest.”
June 17, 2020: Update on United Nations Appeal
George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, appeared via video in an address to the United Nations Human Rights Council, pleading with the panel to intervene and help address police brutality and racial discrimination in the United States. The urgent meeting, requested by the African Group of 54 member states from the continent of Africa.
Mr. Philonise Floyd said to the council, “My family and I had to watch the last moments of [my brother’s] life. When people dared to raise their voice and protest for my brother, they were tear-gassed.” Protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd continue to take place across the globe.
June 19, 2020: The Washington Post Reports on Ben Crump
An article in the Washington Post talked about the work of attorney Ben Crump in many civil rights cases over the years. The report included a discussion of the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. As part of his work on these cases, Attorney Crump went to Louisville and successfully asked the city council to ban no-knock warrants. This type of warrant is what resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor. Banning it means that Louisville is starting to take police violence seriously.
The Washington Post described the role that Ben Crump has in the modern civil rights fight. Quoting the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Post called Ben Crump “black America’s attorney general… because we don’t feel like we have one.” These three cases led by Attorney Crump are just the start of a new push for fairness, no matter the color of a person’s skin.
June 20, 2020: George Floyd’s Case Brings Other Deaths to Light
The U.S. continues to see protests in the name of George Floyd. As people look closer at past cases, other instances of police violence are coming to light. The New York Times reports that victims like Cameron Lamb, Modesto Reyes, Derrick Scott, and others have begun to enter the public eye. One troubling example is the murder of Nicolas Chavez. He was a mentally ill Latino man who was shot multiple times by police while on his knees. Video of the shooting, put on YouTube by a neighbor, has sparked more outrage at police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
People of color have suffered for a long time at the hands of the legal system in America. They have been victims of police violence and wrongful convictions due to jury prejudice. Yet the fight for justice goes on. Black and brown people deserve true equality in the eyes of the law. As attorney Ben Crump fights for George Floyd, he hopes to continue the movement toward equality and peace.
June 25, 2020: Ben Crump Takes on the Case of Jamal Williams
More cases of police violence have come to light since the death of George Floyd. One such example is the death of Jamal Williams. A 22-year-old Mr. Williams was admitted to the Community Hospital for psychiatric care. After a struggle with two security guards, both Mr. Williams and one of the security guards (Ryan Askew) were dead.
The first reports by the Northwest Indiana Times, which were based on a false police statement and have since been fixed, said that Mr. Williams took Mr. Askew’s gun and shot him. A second guard, Benny Freeman, then shot Mr. Williams. New reports say that when Freeman shot and killed Mr. Williams, he accidentally shot and killed Mr. Askew. Mr. Williams did not have control of any gun.
Attorney Ben Crump has taken on the case. He pointed out how deeply sad it is that Mr. Williams was killed at the hospital, where he sought safety and care. “We demand full transparency and accountability,” he said.
June 26, 2020: Officer Removed After Mocking George Floyd’s Murder
Officer Joseph DeMarco was seen mocking the death of George Floyd and has been removed from the New Jersey Department of Corrections. He was suspended without pay after being caught on video at a Black Lives Matter rally. DeMarco and another white man acted out the death of George Floyd, with one placing his knee on the other’s neck. The NJ Department of Corrections called the act “hateful and disappointing.”
Due to “the nature of the charges,” the local police officers’ union decided not to support DeMarco, according to ABC News.
June 28-29, 2020: Ex-Officers Ask for Media Access and Are Denied
On June 28, the men charged with the murder of George Floyd asked District Court Judge Peter A. Cahill to allow cameras and reporters into the courtroom for the pre-trial hearing. Minnesota law only allows this arrangement when all parties agree. The State, believing that it might “taint” the local jury pool, did not agree. As such, the judge denied the request.
The judge’s decision only applies to the pre-trial hearings, as reported by ABC News Channel KTSP. Trial coverage will be decided later.
June 29, 2020: Second Pre-Trial Hearing Results
As the Associated Press reports, the second hearing in the George Floyd murder case set the trial date for March 8, 2021. However, if the accused men file a motion to be tried separately, new trial dates would be necessary.
Judge Peter A. Cahill asked for public officials to remain quiet about the case. According to the judge, statements about George Floyd’s murder can make it hard for attorneys to find a jury free of bias. The judge said that the trial might need to take place at another location. The next pre-trial court date is scheduled for September 11.
June 29, 2020: Ben Crump Is Featured in USA Today
In support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, attorney Ben Crump wrote an opinion piece in USA Today. Unfortunately, the writing was prompted by more evidence of racial division, antagonism, and injustice within the nation’s police force.
Officers in Wilmington, North Carolina, were caught on dashcam, proclaiming that they were excited to systematically kill black civilians. The words, laced with derogatory terms and profanities, were “We are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them fu—– ni—–. I can’t wait. God, I can’t wait.” Such talk is shocking, but even more sobering is that these cops were simply the ones who happened to make these statements. When you catch some, there are surely others out there.
Ben Crump, in his opinion letter, emphasized the need for accountability. The now-former officers who uttered the statements were fired from the Wilmington police force, which is a start. But more needs to be done to prevent this mentality in the first place. As attorney Crump said, until a profound change happens in the hearts and minds of the nation, “the body count of Black Americans will continue to rise.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would require police officers to engage in all the steps necessary to de-escalate situations before using deadly force. It also mandates the use of body cameras and dashcams, which can help hold police accountable. But as attorney Crump pointed out, the Wilmington police’s words call into question the tactics that are used. “Could it be that… officers [actively look] for an opportunity to start slaughtering us?” Ben Crump’s question demands an answer; it demands action. Hopefully, Congress will act soon to begin the healing that this nation needs.
July 13, 2020: Ben Crump Marches for Joel Acevedo
Attorney Ben Crump and his team are representing the family of Joel Acevedo, a young Hispanic man who was killed by an off-duty police officer who placed him in a chokehold for 10 minutes. The case is eerily reminiscent of George Floyd’s murder and shows just how widespread police violence is across the nation.
On Monday, July 13, Ben Crump met with community activists in Milwaukee to march across the city and demand the release of body camera footage and audio recordings of the 911 call associated with Mr. Acevedo’s death. “We won’t rest until we get #JusticeforJoel!” Attorney Crump tweeted. The officer who killed Joel Acevedo, named Michael Mattioli, has been on paid leave since the incident. He currently faces charges of first-degree homicide and a disciplinary review, the first step toward terminating his employment.
July 13, 2020: Officers Charged with George Floyd’s Murder Object to Gag Order
On Monday, all four defendants in the George Floyd murder trial filed objections to the court’s order restricting meetings with the press. In particular, Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao’s attorneys argued that since their clients have not spoken with media outlets, the court’s gag order prevents them from engaging in their right to free speech. The attorneys for the four accused men proclaim that the media coverage puts their clients in a bad light, and the gag order does not allow their clients to voice their own cases.
As reported by CBS Minnesota, the court’s gag order was put in place because the judge believes that further engagement with the media will potentially taint the jury pool. Despite the objections, the gag order remains in place, preventing everyone involved in the trial from talking with the press.
July 15, 2020: Ben Crump Files Lawsuit on Behalf of George Floyd’s Family
Attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Antonio Romanucci officially filed a lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis and the four former officers charged with George Floyd’s murder. The news comes on the heels of the release of police body cam footage of the killing. In the lawsuit, the attorneys for the family of George Floyd allege that the officers in question violated his Fourth Amendment right against unnecessary and unreasonable force. The takedown and knee-to-the-neck tactics of the former officers, according to the lawsuit, constitute excessive and illegal force.
National Public Radio (NPR) quotes Ben Crump: “While all of America is dealing with the public health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, Black America has to deal with another public health pandemic of police brutality.” Calling this the “tipping point” for police brutality cases, Attorney Crump revealed to reporters that the purpose behind the lawsuit is to monetarily punish the city and its former officers.
This lawsuit will make it cost-prohibitive in the future to kill black people as wantonly and with as much disregard for human life as the charged former officers showed in this case. The exact amount of damages sought by George Floyd’s family is not explicit in the lawsuit.
Attorney Crump announced the filing of the lawsuit in a press conference, which can be seen on YouTube. In the video, Crump recalls the words written in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal, and asserts that it is time to “make the Constitution real for all Americans.”
July 30, 2020: Derek Chauvin’s Tax Charges Show Stunning Disparity in Justice
The officer who allegedly killed George Floyd over a reported counterfeit $20 bill now faces tax evasion charges totaling over $21,000. That alone could be a headline worthy of serious reflection on police overreach, systemic violence, and racism.
Yet, an even more apt depiction of the disparity in our justice system, and the lack of weight given to the lives of less wealthy Americans and people of color, has been highlighted by Forbes contributing writer Benjamin Willis. In his recent article on Derek Chauvin’s tax charges, he points out that the ex-officer, if convicted of all charges, would be up against the following maximum penalties:
- 40 years in prison for the second-degree murder of George Floyd
- 45 years in prison for nine felony counts of tax fraud
Look at those numbers again. The murder of a black man accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill is apparently worth five years less prison time than, as Mr. Willis points out, “relatively minor tax fraud.” But the ugly picture of the state of our nation’s justice system does not end there.
Many, including Mr. Willis, believe that the tax charges are being used to ensure a conviction for Derek Chauvin. It is notoriously difficult to convict a police officer for a killing that happens on their watch (even though we have body camera footage of George Floyd’s death). Sadly, the best way to see Chauvin behind bars might be to put more emphasis on his tax-related felonies.
As an even more sobering thought, remember that Chauvin’s tax charges stem from several years of alleged tax fraud and evasion. While George Floyd was killed over $20 at the scene, Chauvin has walked free for years with no repercussions. Perhaps, if Chauvin’s crime was policed as rigorously as alleged crimes committed by poorer people of color, George Floyd would be alive today.
August 3, 2020: Attorney Ben Crump Comments on Leaked Body Camera Footage
Though the body camera footage of George Floyd’s death has yet to be officially released by the judge presiding over the case, a leak allowed the Daily Mail to get video snippets. In them, Chauvin can be seen insisting that George Floyd should not be rolled onto his side to help his breathing, even as another officer mentions potential health risks. Worse, the police can be seen coming into the situation with guns drawn.
Attorney Ben Crump noted this display of violence. “The police officers approached him with guns drawn, simply because he was a Black man,” said Crump, as quoted in the Mercury News. “As this video shows, he never posed any threat.”
Attorney Ben Crump, Chief Legal Strategist William Pintas, and the rest of the team representing George Floyd’s family will continue to pursue justice for George Floyd. As the nation mourns, we have this time as Americans to reform our system so that it protects the most vulnerable and truly offers justice for all.
August 11, 2020: Body Camera Footage Released to Public
Body camera footage from the arrest and killing of George Floyd has been officially released to the public. The full video shows a “cascade of everything going wrong,” according to the New York Times. Here are additional details we now know from the video footage:
- Ex-officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck for a total of 9.5 minutes.
- George Floyd expressed fear and was in emotional distress because (he told officers) a police officer had shot him in the past.
- Ex-officer Thomas Lane produced a weapon and pointed it at Mr. Floyd within six seconds of Mr. Floyd opening his car door.
- The police did not explain the reason for stopping Mr. Floyd before aiming a gun at him and shouting expletives.
These details are alarming and show just how deep the injustice of Mr. Floyd’s death runs. Additionally, even the paramedics who arrived on the scene long after Mr. Floyd had lost consciousness, and possibly a pulse, did not cover themselves in glory.
They waited three minutes and performed four more pulse checks before starting chest compressions on Mr. Floyd. This is an intolerable mistake that shows the flippancy with which black lives, and specifically low-income black lives, are treated by those in positions of power.
August 11, 2020: Attorney Ben Crump Files Lawsuit Over the Arrest of a Florida Boy
The narrative has long been that police killings and mistreatment of black adults happen because officers “fear for their lives.” Though this in itself shows inherent, systemic racism, the propensity toward disproportionate violence against people of color runs even deeper. Such is the case in the arrest of an eight-year-old Florida student whose family attorney Ben Crump recently filed a lawsuit against law enforcement and the school district.
The child, who has been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, ADHD, and severe Oppositional Defiant Disorder, was placed in the classroom of a substitute teacher who was unaware of his Individualized Education Plan. Nor did the teacher have the proper training to interact with him, according to Ben Crump and his legal team.
When the boy would not sit in the manner requested by the teacher, she attempted to manipulate him and physically move him to a new seat. After he told her not to touch him, and the teacher did not relent, the boy punched his substitute teacher in the chest.
A child lashing out is not unheard of, but the response to this situation was alarming. According to USA Today, the school called the police, who showed up in the classroom, attempted to handcuff the child, and took him to the station. He was charged with felony battery, told that he had made a serious mistake, and had his mugshot, fingerprints, and DNA taken before being locked in a jail cell for several minutes.
Though charges were dismissed after the boy underwent counseling, significant trauma was undoubtedly done to the child. The local police department said that “standard operating procedures were followed,” and the officers did nothing wrong.
August 18, 2020: Officer’s Attorney Accuses George Floyd
With the latest release of officers’ body camera footage in the George Floyd case comes new challenges from defense attorneys. The attorney for charged ex-officer Thomas Lane points to the disappearance of “a white spot” on Mr. Floyd’s tongue as evidence that he swallowed a synthetic opioid called fentanyl. According to Fox 5 Atlanta, attorney Earl Gray suggests that the white spot was a 2 milligram tablet of the drug, which would have been enough to cause a lethal overdose.
George Floyd’s autopsy was conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. It is true that evidence of fentanyl and methamphetamine use was found in Mr. Floyd’s system. Yet it is difficult to imagine that a defense attorney can tell the exact dosage of a drug (or even identify that there was a tablet in Mr. Floyd’s mouth) based on a brief image in a body camera video.
Attorney Gray’s argument is that Mr. Floyd “contributed to his own death” by consuming drugs and refusing to follow officers’ orders. Yet the body camera footage shows anything but a dangerous man. Mr. Floyd appears scared throughout the footage, crying and begging (ex-)officer Lane not to shoot him because he had been shot by a police officer in the past.
It also shows Mr. Floyd warning officers about his medical conditions, including claustrophobia. In the video, he appears to be a traumatized man, further exacerbated by Lane brandishing a firearm at him within seconds of tapping on his window. It is entirely reasonable for a person to break down in fear at the sight of a gun when he has been shot in the past in similar situations.
Further, this latest argument from Lane’s attorney showcases a deeper problem with the way we think about police violence in this country. Even if Mr. Floyd did swallow a tablet of an unspecified drug at the scene, is that enough to warrant a death sentence? Wouldn’t a knee placed on the neck of a person who had not swallowed a drug also cut off the airway? Why is the first option to use excessive, lethal force against a person? After all, isn’t the whole raison d’être of the police to “protect and serve?” Or is that merely for a portion of the populace, and not for lower-income people and communities of color?
The legacy of George Floyd is the push for justice and equality for all citizens of this nation. Attorney Ben Crump and his legal team will continue to fight for these ideals even amidst accusations meant to distract from the key elements of this case.
August 23, 2020: The Shooting of Jacob Blake
In a year filled with racial tension and significant protests over police violence and brutality (particularly against people of color), more fuel has been added to the fire this summer.
On Sunday, August 23, 2020, Kenosha, WI man Jacob Blake intervened in a street argument between various parties. According to witnesses, he arrived in an SUV and attempted to break up the disagreement. When police arrived on the scene, video footage shows Blake being tackled by police. Later, he frees himself and begins walking toward his SUV with officers in pursuit, guns drawn.
Sadly, the incident ended with Mr. Blake being shot seven times in the back while lying across his vehicle’s front seat. His three children were in the rear of the SUV, screaming as Kenosha police officers shot their father (it bears repeating) in the back.
Attorney Ben Crump has taken up the representation of Blake’s family, who report that Jacob Blake is currently alive but paralyzed below the waist. Doctors are unsure whether the paralysis is permanent or temporary, according to ABC News. Ben Crump summarized the situation like this: “[Blake was] simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident.”
The shooting has sparked further outrage, protests, and debate. Kenosha police union president, Pete Deates, called statements from public officials condemning the shooting “wholly irresponsible” and pointed to “intricacies” of the incident that were not caught on camera. The video does show Mr. Blake disobeying officers’ orders and walking toward his vehicle. While there is no evidence that a weapon was either in the vehicle or on Mr. Blake’s person, it is possible that the police feared he was trying to produce a gun.
Questions remain. First, should walking away from a police officer be a death sentence? As many protestors have pointed out, police aren’t supposed to shoot “guilty” people either. Second, why do incidents of non-black people disobeying police orders usually not end in shootings? If the officers feared Mr. Blake was retrieving a weapon, why did they not use a taser or other non-lethal techniques? Finally, why were their guns drawn when Mr. Blake was unarmed?
In the coming days, some of these questions may be answered. However, deeper issues remain at the heart of this country’s police procedures that require a significant overhaul. As Karissa Lewis, national field director of the Movement for Black Lives, opined, “There’s no amount of training or reform that can teach a police officer that it’s wrong to shoot a Black man in the back seven times while his children watch.”
August 28, 2020: Ex-Officer Asks Judge to Dismiss Charges
The past week has shown the fundamentally irreconcilable ways in which the accused ex-police officers and the prosecutors of George Floyd’s murder case see the facts. In a sense, it is a microcosm of the larger divide across the nation, as protestors for the sanctity of black lives clash with those who treat accused vigilante murderer Kyle Rittenhouse as a hero.
Attorneys for Derek Chauvin, the former officer whose knee remained on George Floyd’s neck until Mr. Floyd was dead, asked the court to dismiss all charges against him because “there is no probable cause” to support the accusations, according to CNN.
The other ex-officers have also filed motions to dismiss. This comes after the body camera footage of Mr. Floyd’s murder was released, showing the act and eyewitnesses begging the police to check Mr. Floyd for a pulse. No probable cause? The alleged murder is on video.
On the other side of the matter, the prosecution has indicated that it will seek upward sentencing departures for all officers involved. This, they say, is because the nature of George Floyd’s killing is heinous enough to warrant increased punishment. According to the prosecution, Mr. Floyd was treated “with particular cruelty.”
The judge has not ruled on any motions to dismiss.
August 28, 2020: Attorney Ben Crump Remarks on Jacob Blake’s Treatment
Last Friday, attorney Ben Crump gave an official statement on the treatment of Jacob Blake. The Kenosha, WI man was shot seven times in the back in front of his children. He was then hospitalized and pronounced paralyzed (whether this is permanent or temporary paralysis is yet to be seen). Despite his paralysis, Mr. Blake was handcuffed to the hospital bed by his arms and legs.
Allegedly, the handcuffing was due to outstanding warrants for Mr. Blake’s arrest. However, the warrants have been vacated.
Attorney Ben Crump addressed reporters. “Fortunately, a man who is paralyzed and fighting for his life after being shot seven times in the back, will no longer have to deal with the pain of having his ankles and wrist shackled and the traumatic stress of being under armed guard.”
September 8, 2020: Ex-Officers File Motion to Separate Trials
In late August, the prosecution in the George Floyd murder case filed a motion to combine the trials of all four officers involved in killing Mr. Floyd. As of Sept. 8, all four ex-officers and their defense attorneys have officially opposed their trials’ joinder.
Fox 9 reports that attorneys for Thomas Lane argued that if the cases were joined, he would not receive a fair trial and that the jury would be inherently prejudiced against him. This, his attorney stated, is because the ex-officers have different and competing defense strategies, and “all officers have a different version of what happened and officers place blame on one another.”
Echoing this sentiment, the attorney for J. Alexander Keung stated that “just because all four of the individuals charged in this case are police officers does not mean that the officers were acting in concert.” However, the body camera footage seems to suggest that the accused all arrived at the scene together, as part of the same police department.
They treated George Floyd’s reticence to follow Lane’s commands as an affront to their collective authority and took orders from the senior officer on the scene, Derek Chauvin. It may seem odd to some Americans that the officers who allegedly acted in concert to end a man’s life declined to be tried together for those actions.
The State argued that the cases ought to be tried together for several reasons — the foremost reason is to ensure a speedy trial. Having the cases separated when they all relate to the same incident would place an undue burden on prosecutors, state prosecutors said.
Additionally, and perhaps more crucially, having separate trials may represent real psychological and emotional harm for the family and friends of George Floyd. According to the State, conjoined proceedings will protect the survivors from enduring the reopening of emotional wounds again and again.
Furthermore, the defendants have all filed requests to move their trials outside of Hennepin County. The next court date is set for Sept. 11. No ruling has been issued on these motions at this time.
The defendants have all filed requests to move their trials outside of Hennepin County as well. The next court date is set for September 11th. No ruling has been issued on these motions at this time.
September 11, 2020: George Floyd Murder Trial Motions Hearing
On Friday, September 11, the court opened for a motions hearing in the George Floyd murder trial. Defense attorneys for the ex-officers accused of the killing argued several points, including calls for the trial to be moved to a new county and split up so that each defendant’s case can be heard separately.
As reported in the New York Times, Derek Chauvin’s attorney has begun to build a defense that pins the blame on the other ex-officers accused (specifically, J. Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane). These two ex-officers were the first to arrive on the scene, both relatively inexperienced compared to Chauvin.
Chauvin’s lawyer said that they should have de-escalated the situation before Chauvin arrived, and he would not have had to resort to the neck restraint that kept George Floyd from breathing. This argument comes as more evidence of Chauvin’s past, extensive use of this dangerous technique has arisen. The neck restraint has been banned by Minneapolis police departments and others around the country in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s murder.
The court also disqualified several prosecutors from taking on the case, including the county attorney. According to MPR News, the ruling was issued following revelations that the prosecutors met privately with the county’s medical examiner to discuss George Floyd’s autopsy results.
It appears that at least some of the prosecutors will appeal the decision, as county attorney Mike Freeman claimed the meeting was “completely routine” and said that the ruling “would make it nearly impossible for prosecutors to obtain, understand, and introduce evidence in a case.”
September 15, 2020: Historic Settlement for the Family of Breonna Taylor
Six months after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, in her own home, by police in Louisville, KY, her family has some form of closure. Though the officers who shot her still have not been charged, the legal team led by Ben Crump reached a settlement deal with the city for $12 million in compensation.
Attorney Crump addressed the media on September 15, calling the settlement “historic.” He informed the media that this is the highest settlement paid for a Black woman’s wrongful death caused by the police.
He mentioned that it is possibly the highest amount of compensation awarded for the shooting of any Black person, regardless of gender (though he and his firm are still looking into this statistic).
Twelve million dollars will not bring back Breonna Taylor, and it will not fill the gap left behind in her family’s hearts. It is not a statement of Breonna Taylor’s worth, which, like every person wrongfully killed by a police officer, is priceless and irreplaceable. However, the settlement and its historic context show that many across the nation are finally starting to take the overreach of police and police brutality. Real, systemic change is, hopefully, close behind.
Ben Crump Is Outspoken for Justice
As an attorney for several of the recent cases involving the murder of black men and women at the hands of police and vigilantes, Ben Crump has been a leading voice in the efforts for reform and justice. He has spoken to and appeared on several media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, The View, Face the Nation, and more. As more light is shed on the George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor cases, Ben Crump will continue to pursue justice for the families of these victims.