March 12 (UPI) -- The city of Minneapolis on Friday agreed to pay $27 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of George Floyd after he was killed last year when a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
Lawyers representing the family said the sum is the largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history.
"George Floyd's horrific death, witnessed by millions of people around the world, unleashed a deep longing and undeniable demand for justice and change," attorney Ben Crump said.
"That the largest pre-trial settlement in a wrongful death case ever would be for the life of a Black man sends a powerful message that Black lives do matter and police brutality against people of color must end."
George Floyd's family sued the city and four police officers involved in his death in July, saying his rights were violated. The suit accused the city of fostering a culture of excessive force, racism and impunity without fear of retribution in the police department.
George Floyd's brother, Rodney Floyd, said the settlement will help the family begin to get closure.
"George's legacy for those who loved him will always be his spirit of optimism that things can get better, and we hope this agreement does just that -- that it makes things a little better in Minneapolis and holds up a light for communities around the country," Rodney Floyd said.
George Floyd died May 25 after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes while a bystander recorded the incident on video. Floyd died after repeatedly calling for help, saying he couldn't breathe.
Chauvin and three other officers responded to the scene after a nearby store owner accused Floyd of attempting to use counterfeit money.
The video of the arrest sparked global racial justice protests and led to calls for police reforms.
As part of the settlement, $500,000 was set aside to go directly toward improving the business district where George Floyd died, around 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. Several buildings in the neighborhood were damaged by fires set during protests.
"This is a deeply traumatic event that, unfortunately, is a part of too many Black and brown families' realities," said Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, after Friday's vote on the settlement.
"There is no amount of money that can replace a brother, a son, a nephew, a father, a loved one but what we can do is continue to work towards justice and equity and equality in the city of Minneapolis and that's what I commit to do."
Chauvin, who was fired from the MPD, went on trial this week on charges of second- and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Fellow Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Keung and Tou Thao, who were involved in the arrest, were also fired and charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.