In a recent show on the hip-hop podcast Drink Champs, the rapper and fashion designer questioned Floyd's death, claiming it was caused by fentanyl overdose rather than Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd's neck for 912 minutes and was convicted of murder.
Ye stated that Chauvin's knee "wasn't even on his neck like that." As of Monday afternoon, the interview had nearly 2 million views on YouTube. Ye said that a documentary by Republican pundit Candace Owens supported his assertions.
His comments were widely condemned, notably by civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who tweeted on Sunday: "While one cannot defame the dead, the family of George Floyd is considering suit for Kanye's false statements about the manner of his death. Claiming Floyd died from fentanyl, not the brutality established criminally and civilly undermines & diminishes the Floyd family's fight."
Merritt said Monday that Floyd's brother, Philonise, contacted him on Sunday to see whether legal action might be done to prohibit Ye from repeating disproved allegations about Floyd's death. Merritt stated that he is also investigating if Owens may be sued on similar grounds.
Chauvin was found guilty in April 2021 of second-and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, and convicted to 22 12 years in prison in June 2021. He pled guilty last year to abusing Floyd's civil rights using excessive force under cover of authority and was sentenced to slightly over 20 years in prison in July. His federal and state sentences will run concurrently.
During Chauvin's state trial, the medical examiner who ruled Floyd's death a homicide testified that Floyd's heart disease and drug use contributed to his death, but that police officers' restraint of his body and compression of his neck were the primary causes.
Many prosecution expert witnesses stated unequivocally that Floyd died of asphyxia or a lack of oxygen.
Floyd was apprehended by cops on May 25, 2020, at a convenience shop where he was accused of purchasing smokes with a phony $20 cash. Bystander video of Floyd's dying moments sparked worldwide protests against police violence and systematic racism.