George Floyd's brother haunted by nightmares about his murder 4 years later

George Floyd’s family is still grieving, four years after he was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. 

“(It’s) absolutely hell,” sister-in-law, Keeta Floyd tells CBS News. “They don’t realize the things that are going on behind the scenes, for every life that has been lost since the death of George Floyd. It’s extremely painful. It’s a wound that never heals.” 

Several members of the Floyd family joined members of the Congressional Black Caucus this week for the reintroduction of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The measure, sponsored by Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, would enact stricter reforms to address police misconduct and strengthen accountability standards.

“We want this law to be passed, period,” Floyd’s brother, Philonise, told CBS News. “We’ve been fighting for this same law for 2020 since my brother was murdered. The day after the funeral, I had come here to speak to Congress. Nothing has been passed. Every time you look up, they say ‘Oh, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that.'” 

Before Republicans took the majority, the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act twice — both times while the House was under Democratic control, in 2020 and 2021. The bill limited qualified immunity for officers, prevented racial profiling and restricted the use of excessive force. It collapsed in the Senate after bipartisan negotiations broke down between New Jersey Democrat Sen. Cory Booker and South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott over a proposal to ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants and expand federal data collection efforts.

“We have had bill text that had been supported by the nation’s largest police union, by chiefs associations around the country, by civil rights activists and more but in the Senate because of the filibuster, you need 60 votes to pass anything,” Booker told CBS News. “And while I am confident we have over 50 votes to pass many common-sense reforms, it is still frustrating to me that we have not been able to do bills that would reflect changes that have been made in red and blue states.” 

CBS News reached out to Scott’s office for comment. Last year, the GOP Senator delivered a lengthy floor speech on police reform after the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, who was killed by officers in a Memphis police unit during a traffic stop. 

Politics too often gets in the way of doing what every American knows is common sense,” Scott said. “Here we find ourselves again…having the same conversation with no action having happened so far.”  

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nearly 400 policing policy bills were enacted last year including measures that address officer training.

“Colorado said that we’re going to stop qualified immunity, Connecticut said it, New Mexico said it,” Philonise Floyd said of several state laws that have taken effect since his brother’s death in 2020. “It’s these other states that haven’t opened up their eyes and seen what’s going on. But what will happen is, once it hits their front door, then they’re going to make change, then they’re going to say, ‘Hey, let’s not be reactive. Let’s be proactive.”

President Biden signed an executive order in 2022 requiring federal law enforcement agencies to implement reforms and incentivize state and local forces to improve policing practices. In a statement, Jackson Lee said Congress must “do it’s part.”

“While we applaud the administration’s efforts, this action is not as permanent or as comprehensive as the reforms we can accomplish through congressional action,” Jackson Lee said. 

Floyd, 46, was killed after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for over nine minutes as Floyd gasped, “I can’t breathe.” The incident, captured on video, sparked global protests and a racial reckoning during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Chauvin was convicted and is currently serving a 22 ½ year prison sentence. 

Philonise and his wife say he still has nightmares about his brother’s murder. 

He’s in a mental health crisis himself,” Keeta explained. “They don’t get to see that, how it tears families apart. They don’t get to see that. You know, the world does not see that. And so, we’re healing. We’re constantly healing.” 

“I can’t talk to my brother,” said Philonise, who called George “a beacon of hope.” 

“All of these families that are standing with us, who don’t know, who never had this, they’re standing for a reason because they say our fight is your fight,” Philonise Floyd said. “George was my brother. Every mother said, ‘That was my son.’ So if people are standing like that, they’re standing for a reason, because they want people to be able to change these laws.”

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