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Kanye West's false claim about George Floyd's death could spur lawsuit

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A prominent civil rights lawyer said that George Floyd’s family is considering suing rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, for making false allegations about Floyd’s death.

In a recent appearance on hip-hop podcast Drink Champs, the rapper and fashion designer questioned the cause of Floyd’s death and suggested that Floyd was caused by fentanyl use, not by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on his neck for 9½. minutes and was convicted of murder.

Ye said Chauvin’s knee “wasn’t even like that around his neck.” The interview was watched nearly 2 million times on YouTube Monday afternoon.

Ye said his claims were supported by a documentary produced by conservative commentator Candace Owens.

George Floyd
George Floyd.courtesy photo

His words received widespread condemnation, including from civil rights attorney Lee Merritt. tweeted out Sunday: “While the dead cannot be slandered, the #GeorgeFloyd family is considering suing for misrepresentations regarding Kanye’s manner of death. Claiming that Floyd died from fentanyl is not criminal and civilly established atrocities, but undermines and diminishes the Floyd family’s struggle.”

Merritt said on Monday that he was contacted by Floyd’s sister, Philonise, on Sunday about whether legal action could be taken to prevent Ye from repeating the rebutted allegations in Floyd’s death. Merritt said he was investigating whether Owens could be prosecuted on similar grounds.

Chauvin was found guilty of second and third degree murder as well as second degree manslaughter in April 2021 and was sentenced to 22½ years in prison in June 2021. Last year, he pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights by using excessive force under the color of the law, and was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison in July. Federal and state fines will be served simultaneously.

The coroner, who ruled Floyd’s death as murder, said Chauvin during state court that heart disease and drug use contributed to Floyd’s death, but that police officers restraining his body and squeezing his neck were the primary causes. Other prosecution expert witnesses were clear in their assessment that Floyd died of asphyxia or low oxygen.

st. Judge Paul Magnuson of the U.S. District Court in St. Paul told Chauvin, the most senior of the four police officers at the scene, in his ruling in the federal civil rights case: “I really don’t know why you did what you did. But it’s completely wrong to put your knee on someone else’s neck until it expires. and you should be severely punished for this behavior.”

Three other former police officers were also charged in connection with Floyd’s death: Thomas Lane, who clutched his legs as he cried out that he could not breathe; J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd; and Tou Thao, who kept the anxious audience at bay.

Officers encountered outside of a convenience store on May 25, 2020, where Floyd allegedly used fake $20 bills to buy cigarettes. Video of Floyd’s final moments, captured by the audience, sparked worldwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Lane pleaded guilty to state charges of second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s murder last month and was sentenced to three years in prison. Kueng and Thao, who rejected a plea bargain, will appear in court this month.

The three men were convicted in federal court of deprivation of civil rights while acting under government authority when they failed to provide medical assistance to Floyd. Kueng and Thao were also sentenced for not intervening. In July, Kueng was sentenced in federal court to three years and Thao to three and a half years. years.

Ye, which has caused controversy in recent weeks, He was blocked from posting on Twitter and Instagram about a week ago due to antisemitic posts he said violated social networks’ policies. Ye said in a tweet that he would soon “death scam 3 IN JEWISH PEOPLE” according to internet archival records, making a clear reference to the US defensive readiness scale known as DEFCON. This month, Ye, who once suggested that slavery was a choice, was criticized for wearing a “White Life Matters” T-shirt alongside Owens in her Paris Fashion Week collection. The Anti-Defamation League called this expression hate speech.

Many have criticized Drink Champs and its hosts, rapper NORE and DJ EFN on social media for providing a platform for Ye’s racist speeches, denying Floyd’s brutality and excessive force in some of his encounters with the police.

During a phone call Monday with the national radio show The Breakfast Club, NORE apologized to Floyd’s family and said Drink Champs would edit future broadcasts.

“I want to be honest. I support freedom of expression. You know, I support anyone who is not censored,” he said. “But I don’t support anyone getting hurt. I didn’t know that George Floyd’s remarks on my show were so hurtful. And you must realize, it was the first five minutes of the show. As he walked in, he said. My producer said if he stopped making the movie, he’d walk away.”

NORE also said he was “checking out” Ye’s comments on Floyd and White Lives Matter, but said it was too late for the episode and “I was already drunk at the time, maybe people were looking at this.”

“I apologize to the George Floyd family,” he said. “I apologize to anyone hurt by Kanye West’s comments.”

Earlier on Monday, it was announced that Ye had agreed in principle to buy the conservative-focused social media app Parler. Parler’s parent company, Parlement Technologies, announced that it has “reached an agreement in principle to sell Parler” to Ye, who “has taken a bold stance against Big Tech’s recent censorship.”

“In a world where conservative views are viewed as controversial, we must make sure we have the right to express ourselves freely,” Ye said in a statement.

“Your acquisition of Parler will strengthen our ability to create an irrevocable ecosystem,” said George Farmer, CEO of Parlement, who is married to Owens.