Lawyers for George Floyd’s family say they’re getting ready to file a lawsuit against Ye, the artist and entrepreneur formally known as Kanye West, seeking $250 million in damages over his recent claims that Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose rather than at the hands of police.
Attorneys for Roxie Washington, the mother of Floyd’s daughter, said Tuesday (Oct. 18) that they plan to sue West for harassment, misappropriation, defamation and infliction of emotional distress over the rapper’s controversial statements, which he made during an appearance on the Drink Champs podcast.
“George Floyd’s daughter is being retraumatized by Kanye West’s comments and he’s creating an unsafe and unhealthy environment for her,” said Nuru Witherspoon, Washington’s attorney. “Kanye’s comments are a repugnant attempt to discount George Floyd’s life and to profit from his inhumane death. We will hold Mr. West accountable for his flagrant remarks against Mr. Floyd’s legacy.”
The case will be filed by Washington on behalf of her daughter with Floyd, the attorneys said. It’s unclear when or where the case will be filed. The attorneys said they would seek $250 million in damages, but such claims have little bearing on what is actually awarded at the end of a successful lawsuit.
Washington is represented by Witherspoon’s firm, as well as another firm called Dixon & Dixon.
West could not be reached for comment on the looming litigation.
Floyd, whose May 2020 death sparked national demonstrations against police brutality, was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on the street, suffocating him to death. Chauvin was later convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
But in an interview released this weekend by Drink Champs, a popular podcast hosted on Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Revolt media channel, West said he saw things differently: “They hit him with the fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that.”
Drink Champs host N.O.R.E., who conducted the interview, has already apologized for the episode, and the episode has been pulled from both Revolt’s site and its YouTube channel.
Multiple cases against Kanye are now potentially in the works by Floyd’s family. On Sunday, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt posted to Twitter that he had been alerted to the comments Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, and was considering how to bring a case against West.
“While one cannot defame the dead, the family of #GeorgeFloyd is considering suit for Kanye’s false statements about the manner of his death,” Merritt tweeted. “Claiming Floyd died from fentanyl not the brutality established criminally and civilly undermines & diminishes the Floyd family’s fight.”
West’s comments about Floyd came amid a storm of controversy for the once-beloved rapper. First he wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt to a show at Paris Fashion Week, then he was banned from both Instagram and Twitter over a string of anti-Semitic statements. Later in the same Drink Champs interview, he made more attacks on Jewish people, claiming they control the media and blaming “Jewish Zionists” for coverage about his ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her former boyfriend Pete Davidson.