Lawsuits: We Endured Derek Chauvin's 'Signature Move'

Minneapolis city attorney hopes for a 'reasonable settlement'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2022 7:15 AM CDT
Lawsuits: We Endured Derek Chauvin's 'Signature Move'
Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin addresses the court as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over Chauvin's sentencing at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, on June 25, 2021.   (Court TV via AP, Pool, File)

(Newser) – Two Minnesotans filed federal civil rights lawsuits Tuesday against the city of Minneapolis and Derek Chauvin, alleging they were traumatized when the former police officer used his "signature move" of kneeling on their necks—the same way that he killed George Floyd, per the AP. John Pope Jr. was just 14 in September 2017 when he says Chauvin repeatedly struck him in the head with a metal flashlight, put him in a chokehold, then pinned Pope to the floor, with the officer pressing his body weight and left knee into Pope's upper back and neck for more than 15 minutes while Pope was not resisting and crying out "that he could not breathe."

According to the complaint, Pope's mother was drunk when she called police because she was upset with him and his 16-year-old sister for leaving their cellphone chargers plugged in when not in use, leading to a physical confrontation. The other case alleges Chauvin used excessive force against Zoya Code in June 2017 after she allegedly tried to strangle her mother with an extension cord. Code's lawsuit alleges Chauvin "gratuitously slammed Zoya’s unprotected head on the ground" before kneeling on the back of her neck for nearly 5 minutes. Criminal charges against Pope and Code were eventually dropped.

Both lawsuits claim racism; Pope and Code are Black and Chauvin is white. They allege the city knew he had a record of misconduct but didn't stop him and let him stay on the job long enough to kill Floyd on May 25, 2020, a case that led to a national reckoning on racial injustice. Both lawsuits seek unspecified damages and name other officers involved. "We intend to move forward in negotiations with the Plaintiffs on these two matters and hope we can reach a reasonable settlement," Interim Minneapolis City Attorney Peter Ginder says in a statement, calling the incidents "disturbing." Chauvin's attorneys have not responded to requests for comment. (Read more Derek Chauvin stories.)

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