Kanye West: George Floyd comments on Drink Champs podcast interview explained - why is he being sued?

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West comments refute the evidence of medical examiners, and have caused emotional distress for Floyd’s family

Rapper Kanye West - now legally known simply as ‘Ye’ - continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Earlier this month, it was revealed the rapper had been locked out of his Twitter and Instagram accounts, after making antisemitic posts on social media.

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Now, the family of George Floyd has filed a $250 million (£221 million) lawsuit against Kanye West in response to recent remarks the rapper made regarding his death.

Lawyers for the Floyd family issued a cease and desist letter to West, calling recent remarks a “repugnant attempt to discount George Floyd’s life and to profit from his inhumane death”.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

What did Kanye West say about George Floyd?

Floyd, a black man, died in 2020 after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Video of the incident was spread widely online and sparked global protests, most notably invigorating the Black Lives Matter movement and drawing people from all around the world together to speak out against racial injustices.

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Kanye West in the White House in 2018 (Photo: Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images)Kanye West in the White House in 2018 (Photo: Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images)
Kanye West in the White House in 2018 (Photo: Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison in 2021. But as West made a recent appearance on the US podcast Drink Champs, the rapper claimed Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose, despite medical examiner evidence to the contrary.

He said: “They hit him with the fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that.”

Fentanyl is a strong synthetic opioid that is used to treat pain. Fentanyl is also used for anaesthesia in combination with other medicines, and can also be taken illicitly as a recreational drug, sometimes coupled with heroin or cocaine.

A statement shared with the PA news agency read: “During the podcast interview, Kanye West stated malicious falsehoods about George Floyd to profit from Mr Floyd’s horrendous death and his family’s trauma.”

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Lawyer Pat D Dixon III added: “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.”

What are the Floyd family seeking?

Roxie Washington, the mother of George Floyd’s daughter, intends to file the multimillion-dollar case on the basis of “harassment, misappropriation, defamation, and infliction of emotional distress,” according to a statement.

“The interests of the child are priority,” said attorney Nuru Witherspoon, partner at The Witherspoon Law Group, in the statement.

“George Floyd’s daughter is being retraumatised by Kanye West’s comments and he’s creating an unsafe and unhealthy environment for her.”

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Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney from Texas who has previously represented the Floyd family for a wrongful death lawsuit, voiced his outrage on Twitter.

He said: “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 and diminishes the Floyd family’s fight.”

Alongside Merritt, activist Lance Cooper said the Floyd family should sue Ye as Sandy Hook families sued Alex Jones £869m, for his claims that the school shooting was a hoax, while Martin Luther King’s youngest daughter said she was praying for the family in the wake of the “terribly insensitive comments,” the New York Post reported.

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