Minneapolis approves $150K settlement for witness to George Floyd’s murder

Published 4:23 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

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MINNEAPOLIS  — The Minneapolis City Council has agreed to pay a $150,000 settlement to an eyewitness who tried to intervene to prevent George Floyd’s murder and who says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.

Donald Williams, a mixed martial arts fighter who testified against former Officer Derek Chauvin in his 2021 murder trial, sued the city last spring, alleging he was assaulted by police while trying to prevent Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.

The council unanimously approved the settlement without discussion Thursday, the Star Tribune reported.

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The lawsuit alleged that Chauvin looked directly at Williams, grabbed a canister of chemical spray and began shaking it toward him and other bystanders expressing concern for Floyd’s welfare. In video played at Chauvin’s trial, Williams can be heard urging Chauvin to get off Floyd and denouncing the officer as a “bum.” Former Officer Tou Thao stepped toward Williams and placed a hand on his chest, the lawsuit said.

Williams told the jury in Chauvin’s trial that the officer executed what MMA fighters call a “blood choke” on Floyd, restricting his circulation.

As a result of the officers’ actions, Williams alleged in his lawsuit, he feared for his safety and endured pain, suffering, humiliation, embarrassment and medical expenses.

Floyd, who was Black, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes outside a convenience store where Floyd had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Bystander video captured Floyd’s fading cries of “I can’t breathe.” Floyd’s death touched off protests worldwide and forced a national reckoning with police brutality and racism.

Chauvin was convicted of state murder charges in Floyd’s death and was sentenced to 22 1/2 years. He also pleaded guilty to a separate federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights. Thao and two other former officers involved are serving shorter sentences.