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Minneapolis awards $8.9 million to 2 people claiming Derek Chauvin kneeled on them

In this image taken from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin addresses the court at the Hennepin County Courthouse on June 25, 2021, in Minneapolis. The city of Minneapolis agreed Thursday, April 13, 2023, to pay nearly $9 million to settle lawsuits filed by two people who said Chauvin pressed his knee into their necks years before he used the same move to kill George Floyd.
AP
In this image taken from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin addresses the court at the Hennepin County Courthouse on June 25, 2021, in Minneapolis. The city of Minneapolis agreed Thursday, April 13, 2023, to pay nearly $9 million to settle lawsuits filed by two people who said Chauvin pressed his knee into their necks years before he used the same move to kill George Floyd.

Two Minneapolis residents will receive about $9 million from the city after they said Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who killed George Floyd by kneeling his knee on his neck in 2020, used a similar maneuver on them in 2017.

The city council unanimously approved the settlements Thursday. John Pope will receive $7.5 million and Zoya Code will receive about $1.4 million. In Pope's case, Chauvin pleaded guilty to the charges against him in December 2021.

On Sep. 4, 2017, Chauvin responded to a domestic assault report at Pope's house, where Pope lived with his mother and sister. Chauvin arrived on the scene with another officer, Alexander Walls, wearing body cameras, which captured the incident.

Pope's mother, who was "clearly and obviously drunk," according to the city, let the officers in and told them her son, Pope, who was 14 at the time, and her daughter had gotten into a dispute about unplugging phone chargers from the wall, and accused Pope of grabbing and wrestling with her.

According to the complaint, Pope's mother did not have any visible injuries and was speaking calmly. She filled out a police report and the officers followed her to a bedroom where Pope was using his cellphone on the floor.

Walls asked Pope to come out of the room, but before he had the opportunity to, Walls walked into the room, told Pope he was under arrest and to stand up. Pope said his mother had assaulted him, which could be corroborated by his sister, according to the complaint.

Walls then grabbed Pope by the wrist, and Chauvin hit him in the head with a metal flashlight, strangled him, shoved him against the wall and "applied a neck restraint to John Pope that rendered John Pope unconscious," the city said.

"After John Pope regained consciousness, for more than fifteen minutes, Chauvin kept John Pope in a prone position, handcuffed, while Chauvin kneeled on John Pope's neck and upper back," the city said.

At least eight officers were on the scene and saw Chauvin's knee on Pope's neck while Pope begged him to take it off, according to the complaint.

As paramedics arrived at the scene, one observed Pope would need stitches.

In June 2017, Code's mother called the police alleging Code strangled her with an extension cord. Code walked past Chauvin once he arrived at their home, and a struggle ensued with Code and two other officers. She was handcuffed "without incident," the city said.

Code was carried out of the home by her hands and feet. Once she was outside, Chauvin slammed her head to the ground and kneeled on the back of her neck.

He then placed a hobble, a device used to tether the wrists and ankles together, on Code, while remaining on her neck for more than a minute, the city said. The device has since been banned in the Minneapolis Police Department.

Code was charged with domestic assault, but it was dropped, the city said.

In June 2021, a Minnesota judge sentenced Chauvin, a white man, to 22 1/2 years in prison Friday for the murder of Floyd, a Black man, which sparked widespread Black Lives Matter across the country the year prior.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie