Lawsuit says ex-Officer Chauvin kneeled on woman's neck, just as he did when he killed George Floyd

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A former employee sued the city of Minneapolis on Tuesday, alleging ex-police Officer Derek Chauvin hauled her from her minivan and pinned her to the ground with his knee in January 2020, just as he did four months later when he killed George Floyd.

Patty Day, then employed by the Public Works Department, wants over $9 million in damages for her injuries, which included a broken tooth, a deep cut that left a scar on her hand, persistent arm and shoulder pain, and psychological issues including anxiety, depression and flashbacks.

“Chauvin is the most infamous police officer in Minnesota (if not United States) history," according to the complaint filed in federal court. “This exacerbates Patty’s emotional suffering and increases the frequency of her flashbacks, as Chauvin’s name is repeatedly in the news.”

Day's attorneys acknowledge she was drunk on the evening of Jan. 17, 2020, and depressed over her impending divorce and other difficulties, according to the complaint. Her minivan had been stuck in the snow for several hours when Chauvin and Officer Ellen Jensen arrived on the scene.

“Chauvin and Jensen violently yanked Patty from her vehicle and, without justification, threw her to the ground in the middle of a street, fracturing her tooth, injuring her arm and shoulder, and causing other significant injuries before handcuffing her," the complaint says. "Chauvin then assumed his signature pose, pressing his knee into the subdued and handcuffed Patty’s back — just as he would later do to snuff the life out of George Floyd — and remaining that way well after Patty was controlled.”

Saturday will mark the fourth anniversary of Floyd's murder. Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on Floyd's neck for 9 1/2 minutes outside a convenience store where the Black man had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Bystander video captured Floyd’s fading cries of “I can’t breathe.”

Floyd’s death touched off protests worldwide, some violent, and forced a national reckoning with police brutality and racism. Chauvin was convicted of murder in 2021.

City spokespeople and an attorney who has represented Chauvin in unsuccessful appeals did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

Day was charged with drunken driving. A judge ruled that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest her and granted her motion to suppress the evidence. The city attorney's office then dropped the changes, partly because of the way the officers treated her, the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, Assistant City Attorney Annalise Backstrom told the court then: “I just want to make clear that my office and myself don't condone the way that the interaction went down in this particular case.”

Body camera video of the incident was admitted during Day’s evidentiary hearing, but her defense attorney at the time did not keep copies. Day's lawyers say they've been trying for over a year to get the city to release the videos, and accused the city of “intentionally dragging its feet because it would prefer that video of the encounter remain out of public view.”

The lawsuit says Chauvin and his partner filed misleading reports that omitted the true extent of the force they used, did not note her injuries, and did not document Chauvin pinning Day to the ground with his knee. It accuses them of covering for each other, and says there's no evidence that either officer was disciplined.

If Chauvin had been disciplined for that arrest or other excessive force cases, it says, “history could have been stopped from repeating itself with George Floyd.”

The city has already paid out nearly $36 million to settle lawsuits involving civil rights violations by Chauvin, including $27 million to Floyd’s family.


This story has been updated to correct that former police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in 2021, not 2011.