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Minneapolis approves multi-million dollar settlements for two Derek Chauvin victims

The settlements include $7.5 million in the case of John Pope, and another for $1.375 million involving a woman named Zoya Code.

MINNEAPOLIS — The city of Minneapolis will settle two cases involving former police officer Derek Chauvin by paying out nearly $8.9 million in damages. 

City Council members voted Thursday to settle the civil cases filed by John Pope, Jr. and Zoya Code, who both alleged that they were victims of misconduct carried out by Chauvin, actions that were similar to the ones he used in the murder of George Floyd. 

Documents spell out the monetary damages that will be paid out by the city, saying Pope and his attorneys will receive $7.5 million and Code will be awarded $1.375 million. Those awards will be split with the Minneapolis-based law firm Robins and Kaplan.

During a press conference that followed the settlement vote, current Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara used strong language in condemning the culture of MPD at the time the two incidents involving Chauvin took place in 2017. 

"This is an example of the cancer that has infected this department," O'Hara said, while apologizing to Pope, Code and their families. "Nearly six years after these two incidents occurred we are forced once again to reckon with the deplorable acts of a person (Chauvin) who has proven to be a national embarrassment to the policing profession, and the continued harm he has caused members of our community."

Chief O'Hara explained that MPD has a policy of recycling officer badges and badge numbers, but said Chauvin's badge will be destroyed and his badge number permanently removed from the department's system. He also reiterated that there will be zero tolerance for officers who engage in violent, inhumane policing as well as those who cover for, or ignore such conduct. 

John Pope was 14 years old on the day Chauvin entered his family's home in an incident documented by KARE 11 Investigates. Police records show that Chauvin and his partner were dispatched on reports from a mother that she had been assaulted by her two teenage children.  

Pope's lawsuit alleges that the boy was quietly laying on his bedroom floor and using his cell phone when Chauvin entered. The suit says as Pope explained to the officers what had happened they became "increasingly aggressive" in their demands, and Chauvin eventually attacked the teen and struck him multiple times on the head with a large flashlight. Attorneys for Pope say Chauvin then pinned the boy to the floor with his knee, the same tactic he used on Floyd, and held him prone for 15 minutes. Documents accessed by KARE Investigates says the boy lay under Chauvin's knee for closer to 17 minutes.  

In Chauvin's report of the incident, he wrote that the 14-year-old boy – said to be “6-foot-2 and at least 240 pounds” – was “not complying with directions” and “displayed active resistance” when officers tried to place him under arrest.

Chauvin reported that he “applied a neck restraint” and then “used body weight to pin (him) to the floor.”

The lawsuit filed by Code says her encounter with Chauvin was strikingly similar to those endured by both Floyd and Pope. She alleges Chauvin used excessive force on her despite the fact she was handcuffed and not resisting arrest, torquing her arms upward and wrenching them behind her head while she was face down. Code's attorneys say the former officer also slammed Code’s head on the ground and pinned his knee on the back of her neck for 4 minutes and 41 seconds as she lay in a prone position. 

Code says a second MPD officer on the scene failed to intervene.

In recent weeks, an agreement was entered between the city, MPD and the state's Department of Human Rights, which included an overhaul of the MPD's use-of-force guidelines and put focus on oversight, transparency and accountability, among other initiatives.


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