Nine days ago, George Floyd died in police custody in a shocking public display of police brutality. For the past week, protests and cries for justice have swept through major cities in the United States. One such protest occurring yesterday in Cleveland from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. These events have rallied the black community and reinforced the Black Lives Matter Movement. George Floyd’s death is a tragic wake-up call for our society to put an end to both racism and police brutality and push for equal rights and treatment of all African Americans.

How Did George Floyd Die?

On May 25, 2020, Floyd was accused of paying for cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. The New York Times reported that one of the employees of the market approached Floyd and asked for the cigarettes, but Floyd refused. The employee then returned to the shop and called the police.

One-by-one, four police officers arrived on the scene. Three of the officers pinned Floyd facedown to the ground while he was handcuffed. One of the officers held his knee on the side of Floyd’s neck for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

During this time, Floyd repeatedly called out, saying that he couldn’t breathe. After being held in this position for nearly 6 minutes, Floyd became unconscious. The officers continued to pin Floyd until emergency services arrived and instructed the officers to release Floyd; one minute after their arrival.

George Floyd’s biopsy by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner found the cause of death to be cardiac arrest. Furthermore, the Floyd family commissioned a separate and private biopsy that found supporting evidence that Floyd’s death was caused because he was pinned by the police officers.

How George Floyd’s Death Shows Police Brutality

The treatment of George Floyd was unfair and unwarranted. In many police departments, the force displayed by the officers in question can only be used if a subject is actively resisting arrest. Witnesses report they saw no active resistance from George Floyd. In fact, witness videos show that Floyd said he couldn’t breathe at least 16 times before he passed out.

As a result, all four officers were fired on May 26, 2020. The officer who pinned Floyd’s neck under his knee, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers are currently under investigation.

The Death of Breonna Taylor

Another name mentioned during the response to Floyd’s death is that of Breonna Taylor, who died in March. Taylor died the night of March 13, when local police conducted a “no-knock” search warrant. The officers entered her apartment by using a battering ram, and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired his gun for fear of a robbery.

Police reports state the officers only fired back after Walker’s shot. The return gunfire hit Taylor at least eight times, and she died that night.

Policy Brutality in Breonna Taylor’s Death

According to reports, the raid on Taylor’s apartment was due to suspected involvement in drug dealing. However, the drug house was nearly 10 miles away from Taylor’s apartment. No drugs were found, and accounts from Taylor’s family report her upstanding character. Taylor’s family has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Louisville police. 

Accounts of Taylor’s shooting are highly contested, but the brutal and violent actions from the officers in question are not acceptable.

Our Response as Civil Rights Lawyers

As practitioners of personal injury law, one of our practice areas involved defending civil rights. If you or a loved one have experienced police brutality and violations of your rights, you deserve compensation.

Johnnie L. Cochran Jr, founded The Cochran Firm to defend and protect the rights of all people. And we still carry that legacy in our practice today.

Our attorneys in the city of Cleveland, Ohio are dedicated to protecting you, your family, and your rights. We will see that justice is served fairly. Call us if you have any questions about the civil rights laws in Ohio.

As we honor and mourn the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, let us also remember the countless others who have suffered due to racism, prejudice, and brutality. We hope that the impact of these hard days will help us move further toward ending discrimination and racism in our society.