Minneapolis’ historic settlement with George Floyd’s family is so large that it’s forcing the city to dip into its savings to make that payout.
Following the announcement Friday that Floyd’s family will receive $27 million in a civil suit settlement approved unanimously by the City Council, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Monday that the city will have to rearrange its finances to make it work. With just $23.4 million set aside for lawsuit settlements, the city will get the remaining cash from its general fund balance.
While the total amount available in that general fund hasn’t been made public, officials said they don’t anticipate the settlement will have much effect on residents’ taxes. The city managed to raise an additional $24 million in revenue for the general fund in 2019 through licenses and permit fees and investment income, according to the Star Tribune.
But the settlement announcement has had immediate ramifications on the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with Floyd’s death last May after he kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest outside a bodega. On Monday, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson said the “suspicious timing” of the civil suit will hinder his client’s chances at a fair trial as it overwhelmingly implies guilt on the city and the police department’s behalf.
“It has an incredible propensity to taint a jury pool,” Nelson told Judge Peter Cahill Monday morning. “What we’ve been hearing from the jurors who have come in so far is they may run into a headline, ‘Record $27 Million Civil Settlement.’ And the court has granted permission for these people to be scrolling through Facebook, it’s going to be unavoidable.”
Nelson recommended the trial be delayed and relocated outside of Hennepin County, and he asked the judge to consider giving the defense an additional four peremptory strikes. He also asked for the immediate sequestration of the selected jurors and the ability to question the seven jurors picked before Friday’s announcement about the settlement’s impact on their ability to be impartial.
Cahill said he would call the seven jurors back and would consider a delay in the trial, but he denied the defense’s request for more strikes.
Chris Stewart, the Floyd family’s attorney, made it clear Friday that he’s cared little about how the announcement would affect the criminal trial of Floyd’s accused killer.
“Justice doesn’t wait; it happens when it happens,” Stewart said during the press conference. “We’re not going to delay justice because we’re worried about the outcome of a criminal trial that we all pray will have the outcome that we want.”
The $27 million settlement in Floyd’s death marks the second time in less than two years that the city has had to pay a hefty sum for an officers’ deadly actions. In 2019, Minneapolis paid the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an unarmed woman fatally shot by a police officer two years prior, $20 million. Former Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison as a result of Damond’s death.