A pair of lawsuits were filed against Derek Chauvin in federal court Tuesday, alleging the former Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer "used excessive force" in two 2017 incidents that apparently went unpunished by MPD officials.
The lawsuits claim that, due to the MPD's inaction from the 2017 incidents in question, it enabled Chauvin to continue improper policing tactics that eventually led to the death of George Floyd in May 2020, after a curbside arrest.
Both lawsuits attest that Chauvin discriminated against the plaintiffs, due to race, and violated their Fourth and 14th Amendment rights.
The suits also allege civil rights violations against the city of Minneapolis.
Last year, Chauvin was convicted on murder charges — the likely consequence of kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes — and subsequently received a 22 1/2-year prison term.
The first new lawsuit, filed by attorneys for John Pope, alleges that Chauvin engaged in "gratuitous use of excessive force" on Sept. 5, 2017, when he hit Pope — just 14 years old at the time — with a flashlight at least four times and pressed his left knee into Pope's upper back and neck for more than 15 minutes.
On that September night, Chauvin had apparently been dispatched to the house for a report of domestic assault, according to a copy of the lawsuit posted online.
Pope said he lost consciousness as a result of Chauvin's tactics, and had to receive medical treatment.
In all, the first lawsuit claims at least eight officers observed Chauvin's actions when responding to the house incident. The lawsuit names seven police officers, including Chauvin, along with the city of Minneapolis as defendants.
"Each of these individuals had the opportunity, and indeed the duty, to intervene and stop Defendant Chauvin’s unlawful use of force against John. None did," according to the lawsuit text.
For the second lawsuit, attorneys for Zoya Code allege that Chauvin used excessive force by kneeling on the back of Code's neck for more than four minutes during an incident on June 25, 2017.
For that evening, Chauvin had been sent to the house after Code's mother called police, while claiming her daughter had assaulted her and strangled her with an extension cord.
Code was arrested, but the charges were later dropped.
The lawsuit alleges Chauvin "gratuitously slammed" Code's head on the ground outside the house before kneeling on her neck, which both lawsuits referred to as Chauvin's "signature pose."
Code's lawsuit names Chauvin, officer Ross Blair, and the city of Minneapolis as defendants.
Both lawsuits attest Chauvin's actions were approved by his supervisors, and thus did not lead to any subsequent discipline or punishment.
The lawsuits also state Chauvin lied and left out critical details when preparing official reports about the incidents.
"The MPD embraced a militaristic culture where unnecessary drama often was injected into situations by officers," both lawsuits state.
Minneapolis' interim city attorney, Peter Ginder, found the incidents detailed in the lawsuits "disturbing."
"We intend to move forward in negotiations with the plaintiffs on these two matters and hope we can reach a reasonable settlement," said Ginder in a statement.
"If a settlement cannot be reached on one or both lawsuits, the disputes will have to be resolved through the normal course of litigation."
Parts of the incidents were apparently captured on officers' body-worn cameras, according to the documents filed by Pope and Code's lawyers.
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