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Date: 04-13-2023

Case Style:

John Christopher Pope, Jr. v. Derek Chauvin, et al.

Case Number: 0:22-cv-01434

Judge: Eric C. Tostrud

Court: United States District Court for the District of Minnesota (Hennepin County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Joseph A Kell, Kevin M Beck and Rebecca L Duren for Alexander Walls and Joshua Domek

Joseph E Flynn and Patrick S Collins for Graham Plys, et al.

Brian Scott Carter and Mark S Enslin for the City of Minneapolis

Description: Minneapolis, Minnesota civil rights lawyers represented Plaintiff who sued Defendant claiming that his constitutional rights were violated by Derek Chauvin and others through the use of excessive force.

In the plaintiffs’ lawsuits against the City, former police officer Derek Chauvin, and several additional Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers, the complaints alleged police misconduct, use of excessive force, and racial discrimination from incidents dating back to 2017, three years before Chauvin murdered George Floyd.

In these incidents, body-worn camera recordings from Chauvin and the other named officers showed that Chauvin employed many of the same unchecked excessive force tactics he later used in his murder of George Floyd, for which he was sentenced to 22 ½ years in prison in 2021. Chauvin was never disciplined for these incidents by the MPD, which had possession of the video evidence of his misconduct. Nor were any of the other involved officers disciplined.

In 2017, John Pope was 14 years old when MPD was called to his house for a domestic disturbance. Chauvin entered Pope’s bedroom, where he was lying quietly on the floor using his cell phone. As Pope explained what had happened, the officers became increasingly aggressive in their demands. Though Pope posed no threat to the officers or anyone else, Chauvin rushed Pope and struck him multiple times on the head with a large metal flashlight. He then choked Pope around his neck before pinning Pope to the floor with his knee—the same tactic he used on George Floyd—and held him in the prone position for 15 minutes while Pope repeatedly cried that he could not breathe. At least eight other MPD officers witnessed the scene, yet none stepped in to intervene, nor did any report the event as they were required to do. Worse yet, the defendant Sergeant Lucas Peterson approved Chauvin’s excessive force and tried to explain the approval to John while his wounds were being sutured at Hennepin County Medical Center.

In a strikingly similar 2017 incident, Chauvin used excessive force on Zoya Code despite her not posing a threat to MPD officers or anyone else. While she was in handcuffs and not resisting arrest, Chauvin repeatedly used excessive force, torquing her handcuffed wrists and arms upward and behind her head, all while she was face down. Chauvin also slammed Code’s head on the ground and pinned his knee on the back of her neck, like in the Pope and Floyd incidents, and then placed her in a “hobble” restraint for no reason. Code remained in the hobbled, prone position with Chauvin pressing his knee and body weight on her neck for 4 minutes and 41 seconds. A second MPD officer on the scene failed to intervene, and the responding supervisory Sergeant approved the force. No discipline was levied on Chauvin.

Outcome: Settled for a reported $7.5 million.

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