Kanye West is drawing outrage for his latest inflammatory comments, this time about the killing of George Floyd. During a recent interview, the embattled rapper publicly blamed Floyd's death on fentanyl and dismissed the fact that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes. The Floyd family is mulling legal action over West's statement.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who represented Floyd's family, acknowledged that while "one cannot defame the dead," there may be other legal options "for Kanye's false statements about the manner of [Floyd's] death."
"Claiming Floyd died from fentanyl not the brutality established criminally and civilly undermines & diminishes the Floyd family's fight," Merritt tweeted.
Merritt told CNN that Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, reached out to pursue a defamation suit against West; however, that's not legally possible. The Floyd family could potentially sue for intentional infliction of emotional distress, though.
"I have put together a working team to investigate [West's] statements and to investigate the source of those statements," Merritt added.
West spoke about Floyd's death on a new episode of the Drink Champs podcast. The entrepreneur, who goes by Ye, talked about watching conservative commentator and friend Candace Owens's new documentary The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM.
"I watched the George Floyd documentary that Candace Owens put out. One of the things that his two roommates said was they want a tall guy like me, and the day that he died, he said a prayer for eight minutes," West said. "They hit [Floyd] with the fentanyl. If you look, the guy's knee wasn't even on his neck like that."
The medical examiner ruled Floyd's death on May 25, 2020 a homicide that occurred while he was being restrained by police. An autopsy listed Floyd's cause of death as a "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." The autopsy listed other "significant" conditions, including hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.
Last year, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and has begun serving 22 1/2 years prison sentence. He was also sentenced to 21 years in a federal prison for violating Floyd's civil rights.
It's been a troubling few weeks for West. The Grammy winner has publicly made multiple antisemitic comments leading to his Twitter and Instagram accounts getting restricted. That seems to have motivated him to agree in principle to buy Parler, the conservative social media platform.
Two weeks ago, West captured headlines when he debuted "White Lives Matter" shirts at his Yeezy show. In the days that followed, West called the Black Lives Matter movement — which gained huge momentum across the country after Floyd's death — a scam. He's remained defiant about his beliefs in subsequent interviews, including a headline-making appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
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