Photo: Megan Varner / Stringer via Getty Images
  /  05.18.2023

The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police affected many more people than Floyd himself. One of the bystanders who witnessed the murder is now suing the city for what he experienced on that fateful May 2020 day. 

Donald Williams filed a lawsuit on Tuesday (May 16) alleging he was assaulted and suffered emotional distress as he witnessed a handcuffed Floyd beg for his life before going limp. When now-convicted murderer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, the ex-police officer threatened Williams and other bystanders with a can of mace. According to The Associated Press, Chauvin shook it at them after Williams spoke out expressing concern for Floyd. 

Williams’ lawsuit also alleges that Chauvin and another ex-officer, Tou Thao, taunted Floyd, Williams, and other bystanders who were worried about Floyd being harmed. In addition, the plaintiff claimed that Thao placed his hand on his chest, which the witness took as a threat against him and others watching.

Because of the officers’ conduct that day, Williams has dealt with emotional distress, pain, suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, and unforeseen medical expenses. He’s suing for one count of assault, one count of intentional infliction of emotional distress, and one count of negligent infliction of emotional distress and seeking a minimum of $50,000 for each count.

Williams testified during Chauvin’s trial in the spring of 2021. The former wrestler and MMA fighter stated that the police grew angrier as Floyd’s arrest went on. He was one of several bystanders who Thao admonished and demanded they stay on the sidewalk.

Chauvin has been found guilty for murdering George Floyd as well as violating his civil rights. Thao was convicted of second-degree manslaughter earlier this month and faces between 41 and 57 months in prison for his aiding and abetting Floyd’s death.

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