2/2 © Reuters. The Trial of Former Police Officer Derek Chauvin 2/2
By Makini Brice (Reuters) – As the world follows the often emotional testimony at the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, members of Floyd’s family watch a live broadcast on a separate court room. Frequently by her side is civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who heads the family’s legal team. Floyd and his siblings often slept in the same bed as the children, with Floyd playing the role of protector, Crump says. “For us, it is a case. It is a cause. It is a hashtag,” Crump told Reuters. “For them … it’s their family. This is their blood.” Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, died after Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. His death, captured on video by a passerby, sparked protests around the world over racism and police brutality. Chauvin, who faces up to 40 years in prison on murder and manslaughter charges, has pleaded not guilty. The case is familiar ground for Crump, who is often called upon to represent the families of African-Americans killed in civil lawsuits, including Trayvon Martin, a teenager shot to death in 2013 by a neighborhood watchman, and Breonna Taylor, who died during a failed police. Raid. Crump, 51, who grew up in rural North Carolina and attended segregated schools for most of elementary school, sees his role as a civil rights advocate who keeps media attention on black victims. that otherwise they would not receive “full justice” under the United States Constitution. Grand juries rarely charge police officers for killing a suspect in the line of duty in the United States, particularly when the victim is black, according to legal experts. “What we are doing is continuing to present the arguments in the court of public opinion,” Crump said. “The court of law is not very kind to marginalized minorities.” With that in mind, Crump often turns to civil litigation. It was Crump who helped the Floyd family sue the city of Minneapolis, resulting in a $ 27 million settlement that has qualified as the largest pretrial settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit in American history. The agreement, which came two weeks before the trial began, was criticized for its possible influence on the selection of jurors for the criminal trial, including by the judge who called it “unfortunate.” Crump dismissed the criticism, saying that white families frequently receive civil settlements before criminal “justice” in similar cases. “It’s just that blacks hardly ever get large civilian settlements,” he said. “We see that all the statistics tell us that our white brothers and sisters get more in civil verdicts and civil settlements than minorities in America, and that’s why we have to say ‘Black lives matter.’ So far, Crump said he was satisfied with the prosecution’s presentation in the Chauvin case and said several witnesses, including senior police officers who described Chauvin’s use of force as excessive, gave powerful testimony. He harshly criticized the defense‘s attempt to blame the surrounding crowd for Chauvin’s use of force at the time of Floyd’s arrest, calling it “stupid.” The defense has argued that Floyd may have died from a drug overdose. The defense is “increasingly desperate,” Crump said. “And I pray and I think the jury will be able to see through that.” The case against Chauvin could go to the jury for deliberation starting next week. Even as jurors continue to hear arguments, Crump is taking over for other cases. On Thursday, Crump appeared at a press conference in Houston to announce a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Pamela Turner’s family. Turner, a black woman suffering from mental illness, was shot by a police officer outside her apartment complex. “We deserve better surveillance than this,” Crump said. Like the attorneys for many plaintiffs in the United States, Crump works on a contingent basis. Crump’s office did not respond to questions about payment in the Floyd case, but plaintiffs’ attorneys often receive about a third of the settlement amount.