Minneapolis pays out $9m in suits over George Floyd’s killer officer Derek Chauvin

File photo of Derek Chauvin in June 2021 (AP)
File photo of Derek Chauvin in June 2021 (AP)

The city of Minneapolis will pay nearly $9 million to settle lawsuits filed by two people who said former police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into their necks years before he killed George Floyd.

John Pope Jr. will receive $7.5m (£6m) and Zoya Code will receive $1.375m (£1.1m).

The settlements were announced during a meeting of the Minneapolis City Council.

The lawsuits stemmed from arrests in 2017, three years before Chauvin killed George Floyd by pressing his knee into his neck during an arrest.

Footage of the brutality sparked international condemnation and protest.

At a news conference on Thursday, Mayor Jacob Frey apologised to Chauvin’s victims and said that if police supervisors “had done the right thing, George Floyd would not have been murdered."

A protest in Minneapolis in May 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
A protest in Minneapolis in May 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

“He should have been fired in 2017. He should have been held accountable in 2017," Mr Frey told reporters.

Both lawsuits named Chauvin and several other officers, and alleged police brutality and racism.

Both of the claimants are black, while Chauvin is white. They also said the city of Minneapolis knew Chauvin had a record of misconduct but didn’t stop him.

In edited body camera footage released Thursday, Pope is heard crying while lying on his stomach, his hands cuffed behind his back and Chauvin’s knee on his neck.

“My neck really hurts,” he says more than once. At one point, the videos show the other officers in the room walked out after Pope began crying.

Police Chief Brian O’Hara said the department is “forced to reckon once again with the deplorable acts of someone who has proven to be a national embarrassment,” but also admitted a “systemic failure” within the Minneapolis Police Department.

The lawsuits said 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 for killing Floyd by pressing his knee to 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 said she was in handcuffs when Chauvin slammed her head to the ground and pinned his knee on the back of her neck for 4 minutes and 41 seconds.

A second officer didn’t intervene and a responding police sergeant approved the force, the lawsuit stated.

Pope’s lawsuit alleged Chauvin struck Pope in the head with a large metal flashlight at least four times.

It says he then put Pope in a chokehold before pinning him to the floor and putting his knee on Pope’s neck.

Chauvin admitted to many of Pope’s allegations when he pleaded guilty in December 2021 to federal charges for violating the civil rights of both Floyd and Pope.

He was sentenced in July to 21 years on those charges. Chauvin is serving his sentences concurrently in a federal prison in Arizona.