The city of Minneapolis agreed Thursday to pay nearly $9 million to resolve lawsuits filed by two people who said that former police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into their necks years before he used the same move to kill George Floyd.
John Pope Jr. will receive $7.5 million and Zoya Code will receive $1.375 million. The agreements were announced during a Minneapolis City Council meeting.
Both lawsuits stemmed from arrests in 2017, three years before Chauvin killed Floyd during an arrest captured on video that sparked protests around the world, sparked a national recognition of racial injustice and forced a Minneapolis Police Department Review. The lawsuits stated that if the city had acted sooner to discipline Chauvin, «history could have been prevented from repeating itself with George Floyd.»
Bob Bennett, Pope and Code’s attorney, said in a statement that other officers did not intervene or report Chauvin, and police leaders allowed Chauvin to «field train and indoctrinate dozens of young MPD officers in his own fearless way.» to discipline or negative sanction. and continue the predatory ways of him for years.”
Council member Elliott Payne said what happened to Code and Pope was a reminder of what happened to Floyd and reignited those emotions.
“And it’s not really a Derek Chauvin problem. It’s an institutional problem,” Payne said. He hoped the settlements «bring closure to this era and be a stark reminder of the work ahead.»
Code, who has a history of homelessness and mental health issues, was arrested in June 2017 after she allegedly tried to strangle her mother with an extension cord. Pope was 14 years old in September 2017 when, according to her lawsuit, Chauvin subjected him to excessive force while responding to a report of domestic assault.
Both suits named Chauvin and several other officers. The lawsuits alleged police misconduct, excessive force and racism: Pope and Code are black; Chauvin is white. They also said the city knew Chauvin had a history of misconduct but did not take him into custody. Criminal charges in both cases were eventually dropped.
The lawsuits say body camera recordings showed Chauvin used many of the same tactics on Pope and Code that he used on Floyd. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison on a state murder charge in 2021 for killing Floyd by pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. The city also paid $27 million to Floyd’s family.
Code’s lawsuit says she was handcuffed when Chauvin slammed her head into the ground and pinned the back of her neck with his knee for 4 minutes and 41 seconds. A second officer did not intervene and a responding police sergeant approved the force, according to the lawsuit.
Pope’s lawsuit says his mother was drunk when she called police because she was upset that he and his 16-year-old sister left their cellphone chargers plugged in, prompting a physical confrontation. He alleged that Chauvin struck Pope over the head with a large metal flashlight at least four times. He says that he then strangled Pope before pinning him to the ground and putting his knee into Pope’s neck.
“Chauvin proceeded to hold John in this prone position for over fifteen minutes, all while John was completely shut down and not resisting,” the complaint alleges. «During those minutes, John repeatedly yelled that he couldn’t breathe.»
The complaint alleged that at least eight other officers did nothing to intervene. He said Chauvin did not mention in his report that he had struck Pope with his flashlight, nor did he mention holding Pope down for so long. Chauvin’s sergeant reviewed and approved the report of him and the use of force «despite having firsthand knowledge that the report was false and misleading,» the lawsuit alleges.
Chauvin admitted to many of Pope’s allegations when he pleaded guilty in December 2021 to federal charges for violating the civil rights of Floyd and Pope. he was sentenced in July to 21 years for those charges.
Chauvin is serving his sentences in a federal prison in Arizona.