On April 13, 2023, the Minneapolis City Council agreed to pay two citizens nearly $9 million to settle their lawsuits alleging misconduct by former officer Derek Chauvin before his leading the now infamous killing of George Floyd in May 2021. 
Lawsuit by John Pope, Jr.
One lawsuit was brought by John Pope Jr., a black man, who will receive a $7.5 million settlement.
His lawsuit alleged that in 2017, when he was 14 years old, his mother was drunk when she called police because she was upset that he and his 16-year-old sister left their cell phone chargers plugged in, leading to a physical confrontation. It 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 would proceed to hold John in this prone position for more than fifteen minutes, all while John was completely subdued and not resisting,” the complaint alleged. ”Over those minutes, John repeatedly cried out that he could not breathe.”
The Pope complaint alleged that at least eight other officers did nothing to intervene. It also said Chauvin did not mention in his report that he had hit Pope with his flashlight, nor did he mention pinning Pope for so long. Chauvin’s sergeant reviewed and approved his report and use of force ”despite having firsthand knowledge that the report was false and misleading,” the lawsuit alleged.
Chauvin admitted to many of these allegations when in December 2021 he pleaded guilty to federal charges regarding Pope and was sentenced in July 2022 to 21 years on these charges.
Lawsuit by Zoya Code
The other lawsuit was brought by Zoya Code, a black woman, who will receive $1.375 million in her settlement. In September 2017 she was 14 years old and allegedly tried to strangle her mother with an extension cord. When Chauvin responded to a call about this situation, he put Zoya in handcuffs, slammed her head into the ground and put his knee on the back of her neck for 4 minutes and 41 seconds. Another officer at the scene did not intervene to stop Chauvin, and a responding police sergeant approved Chauvin’s use of force.
City Officials’ Reactions to These Settlements
Also on April 13, immediately after the approval of the above settlements, Minneapolis Chief of Police Brian O’Hara and Mayor Jacob Frey announced their reactions.
The Police Chief stated the department is “forced to reckon once again with the deplorable acts of someone who has proven to be a national embarrassment.” But he also cited “systemic failure” within the Minneapolis Police Department. “I am appalled at the repetitive behavior of this coward and disgusted by the inaction and acceptance of that behavior by members of this department. Such conduct is a disgrace to the badge and an embarrassment to what is truly a very noble profession.”
“The Minneapolis police has a tradition to recycle the badge numbers that are no longer assigned to a current officer. [Chauvin’s badge, however,] betrayed and so egregiously dishonored, will be destroyed, and the badge number permanently removed from our rosters so that no future Minneapolis police officer should have to wear it.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey apologized to all Chauvin’s victims and said that if police supervisors “had done the right thing, George Floyd would not have been murdered. He should have been fired in 2017. He should have been held accountable in 2017.” Frey added that the actions about his police badge was a “symbolic but important attempt” to purge the city of Chauvin’s legacy.
The Mayor’s written statement also discussed the progress that the City and MPD has made.
“Over the past couple of years, the City has continued a sustained push to shift the culture within the MPD. Since June 2020, Mayor Jacob Frey and MPD leadership have implemented sweeping changes, including overhauling the discipline matrix, multiple revisions to the Use of Force policy, updating the Field Training Officer program, a complete ban on neck restraints, affirmative duty to physically intervene, requiring officers to complete ABLE Training and more.”
“Most recently, the City and MPD entered into a court-enforceable settlement agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Under the agreement, there is an entire section dedicated to Use of Force including:
- Establishing new “levels” to more clearly define reportable uses of force.
- Except for in critical incidents, requires each officer who uses level 2 or level 3 reportable use of force, and each officer who is physically present and witnessed the use of force, to accurately and thoroughly record all information in the required systems for each reportable use of force.
- Requiring a supervisor to respond to the scene if significant force is used, which is based on the new reportable levels of force.
- Requiring officer who uses reportable force to document the reason for the initial interaction.
- Prohibiting officers from sharing information with another officer for the purpose of creating or producing force reports and documentation.”
“There are also many provisions within the agreement that bolster accountability, oversight, and supervisor review processes. Some examples include creating a new MPD Review Panel, chaired by the chief or their designee, to review, analyze and assess MPD’s enforcement practices, directing significant investment to new IT infrastructure such as new data collection, management and analysis systems to improve accountability, transparency and public safety, and new supervisory review processes that hold both supervisors and supervisees accountable.”
“The U.S. Department of Justice also has an ongoing pattern or practice investigation into the City and the MPD.”
“Additionally, the City recently approved an ordinance establishing a 15-member Community Commission on Police Oversight designed to improve transparency and accountability. This Commission should convene later this spring.”
 Salter, Minneapolis to pay $8.9M over Chauvin’s actions before Floyd, StarTribune (April 13, 2023); Salter, Minneapolis to pay $8.9M over Chauvin’s actions before Floyd, Assoc. Press (April 13, 2023).
 Orrick, Derek Chauvin’s badge will be destroyed and no cop will have number 1087 again, StarTribune (April 13, 2023); Mayor Frey, City reaches settlements in lawsuits involving former MDP officer Derek Chauvin (April 13, 2023).