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Historic civil settlement for George Floyd's family brings uncertainty to Derek Chauvin's criminal trial

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A historic $27 million settlement in a lawsuit filed over George Floyd’s death, announced as a jury is being chosen for the criminal trial of the officer accused of killing him, complicates a high-profile prosecution and could become grounds for an appeal of a conviction, legal observers say.

Floyd’s death under the knee of then-police officer Derek Chauvin was captured on video and seen by millions. It sparked nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality. Friday, the city of Minneapolis settled a civil rights lawsuit against it and the four officers who restrained him.

The announcement of the settlement, which occurred when the criminal trial was on a lunchtime break, “was incredibly bad timing and extremely damaging to the defense and maybe the state,” said Mary Moriarty, former chief public defender of Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Among the possible effects: A potential juror could presume there’s no need to convict Chauvin because the Floyd family has already received a large settlement, she said.

Chauvin is on trial on charges of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors have been careful to avoid potential causes for appeal, Moriarty said. “This certainly creates one. Not of their doing.”

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Floyd died in May after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground under Chauvin’s knee for more than 9 minutes. Floyd repeatedly cried out, “I can’t breathe.” 



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