On his website, it is clear that celebrity attorney Benjamin Crump is most focused on one aspect of practicing law: Financial settlements. Images of total payouts and a list of lottery-like payouts adorn the homepage. He clearly wins; whether his victories advance justice is undecided. The site quietly notes that his commission is one-third the total settlement.
The name of Benjamin Crump is synonymous with high-profile cases of alleged black victims after their interaction with police officers. While Crump’s website boasts of large economic windfalls after traffic accidents (in one case he was awarded $411 million in damages stemming from a traffic accident), it is from a decades representing families like those of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd that the average American recognizes his name. Add the name of Dante Wright to the list.
Recently, the family of George Floyd’s survivors, aided by the legal counsel of Crump, earned a tidy $27 million. This news was shocking for a few reasons. On top of representing a record settlement, the announcement also came in the midst of jury selection for the criminal proceedings. (Two jurors were dismissed by the judge after learning of the news). Of course, records were made to be broken, and the settlement for the Floyd family might very well be eclipsed by another suit filed by Team Crump and on behalf of the family of Dijon Kizzee, a black man killed by police in Los Angeles. They are seeking $35 million.
Where wronging has occurred, righting is required. There is no dispute of that matter, nor of the idea of fair recompense when merited. However, is that what is happening? What is Crump accomplishing and what message is he sending? Is he really seeking justice in its truest sense, or merely profiting from white liberal guilt and a citizenry too afraid of addressing issues of race honestly? As Crump’s Wikipedia page shows, nearly every case involving a black victim of police misconduct has ended with either no charges being brought against – or later an acquittal of – the officers. This all comes after his involvement in drumming up community anger and social unrest, which predictably leads to vociferous and violent protests in the immediate aftermath of each incident and the hackneyed charges of racism against the supposedly offending officers. When a case is settled, there is never an apology from Crump, who then waits for the next opportunity to cash in.
This past year alone, Mr. Crump represented the survivors of Blake, Taylor, Floyd and Kizzee. In the cases of the first two, no charges were even filed against the officers for their role in the injury of Blake and the death of Taylor. Of course, there is outrage over these results, because people like Crump say that Blake was “helping to deescalate a domestic incident” and Taylor was “executed.” No, they weren’t. Those are provable lies and yet he gets away with comments like that over and over again. By all appearances, Dante Wright was killed in a tragic accident, yet Crump asks what it “will take for law enforcement to stop killing people of color.” This most recent case has nothing to do with race. For that matter, not once has race ever proven to be a factor in these officer-involved shootings. One thing never mentioned by Crump is that noncompliance is always present. Facts and evidence notwithstanding, though, Black Lives Matter and the Crump legal team continue to profit by fanning racial flames and cashing in on a white-majority society too afraid to push back.
How did we get here?
The first race-based case taken on by Crump occurred back in 2002, when he represented the surviving family of Genie McMeans, Jr. McMeans was killed by a recently-hired black female police officer. The deceased initiated contact with the officer, yelled at her, and disobeyed her orders. When he eventually made a move to retrieve something from his car, he was fatally fired upon. Crump took the case, but after a short deliberation the officer was subsequently cleared of any charges by a grand jury.
Fast forward to 2012 when Crump returned to the civil rights arena after a young black man named Ronald Weekly, Jr. accused the Los Angeles Police Department of racially profiling him and applying unreasonable force. In reality, he was a street bum that resisted arrest. A federal jury unanimously cleared all officers and the city.
In that same year, Crump skyrocketed to national notoriety for his involvement in the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Lest readers forget, NBC intentionally misrepresented Zimmerman in the 9-1-1 call and portrayed him as a white man (he is Hispanic), thus planting the seed for the falsifiable narrative of white-on-black brutality. Crump again took the case and was again on the losing side. Zimmerman was found not guilty by a jury of his peers. The Martin family won a settlement of over one million dollars.
That same year, Crump represented the family of Alesia Thomas, who had been sought for the abandonment of her two children and when ultimately approached was high on cocaine. While she died in police custody, and Crump contended the police were directly responsible for her death in their custody, the female police officer that was eventually charged was found guilty of only felony assault, not murder. The dropped charge existed because the autopsy was inconclusive about the application of force in light of the deceased’s own actions and severe intoxication. Her surviving children were awarded $2.5 million from the city of Los Angeles.
In 2014, the infamous Ferguson incident occurred, where the not-so-gentle giant Michael Brown, high on marijuana and black privilege, robbed a convenience store and proceeded to violently resist lawful commands. After assaulting a policeman and attempting to take his sidearm, Brown was shot and killed. Crump alleged, and the media and the White House likewise asserted, that a white racist police officer murdered an innocent young black man. Although both a grand jury and Eric Holder himself searched in the last few unburned buildings for evidence that the officer had evil motives, none surfaced, and no grounds could be established to prosecute the officer. The Brown family settled for $1.5 million with the city of Ferguson.
In the next forced-narrative incident, teenager Tamir Rice was tragically killed after the police were called about a person waving a firearm at a local park. Still brandishing the weapon when officers arrived at the scene, he was quickly and lethally subdued. Both local prosecutors and a subsequent grand jury declined to charge the officers, citing that given the circumstances, the officers responded reasonably. No charges were filed. The city of Cleveland, however, settled for $6 million with the Rice family.
A year later, Crump took the job of representing a deceased Mexican immigrant, who, while being high on methamphetamines, hurled rocks the size of softballs at officers. Three officers, one also of Hispanic origin, fired several shots and killed him. For some reason, this warranted the intervention of the leftist Mexican president to decry American police brutality. Despite the political pressure of the case, no charges were brought against the officers.
Crump next took the case of a black Oklahoman named Terrence Crutcher. Police were dispatched after Crutcher, who as it turns out was out of his mind from acute PCP intoxication and an even more hallucinogenic substance called TCP, was parked in the middle of a street, wandering aimlessly, and making every interaction difficult for the responding officer. After he reached into his vehicle against repeated commands, he was shot and killed. The officer was charged with first-degree murder and jury of her peers found her not guilty.
Looking for a black woman to rally behind for, you know, equality, Black Lives Matter latched on to the case of Breonna Taylor, who was soon joined by Crump. Despite a media narrative saying she was an EMT living the steady life, and who was slain while sleeping peacefully in her bed, nothing could have been further from the truth. Taylor was involved in a drug ring and police executed a warrant based on her entanglements in the nefarious underworld, which included a dead body being in a car rented under her name. When police arrived, her boyfriend fired upon the police, who returned fire and struck her in the crossfire. Police were cleared of any wrongdoing in her death by the state of Kentucky’s black attorney general. Nevertheless, the city of Louisville settled for $12 million.
George Floyd’s death in May of 2020 has led to months of riots, looting, and additional deaths in the black community. Despite a one-sided narrative fueled by a single still image, the ongoing trial has produced quite a bit of evidence that brings into question “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Among other factors, there is officer body camera footage that captures Floyd yelling he couldn’t breathe well before being pinned on the ground, toxicology reports demonstrating a veritable drug cocktail swirling around in his system, Floyd’s girlfriend’s testimony that he had been admitted to a hospital just months before on a drug overdose, the refusal of his drug dealer to testify on grounds that anything he might say would self-incriminate, and the autopsy report showing that Floyd’s heart was enlarged and that he had significant arterial blockage. A jury has yet to issue a verdict, but suffice to say there is a lot of information coming out that adds layers of complexity to this case. Regardless, the city settled for a record $27 million.
The presence of Benjamin Crump usually means there will be significant media attention, angry protests, furthered narratives, and, as is usually the case, an officer acquittal. In the one court case that was decided in his favor on his Wikipedia page, the officer wasn’t white and there was a gun found in the vicinity of the incident belonging to the victim. It was not a slam dunk for the prosecution, not by a long shot. Time will tell what happens with the case involving George Floyd.
Here’s the truth: Almost every single one of Mr. Crump’s clients was a potential threat to the police and/or surrounding public. They acted dangerously and unpredictably, often while intoxicated from mind-altering drugs. Without exception, they posed a hazard to others. Their deaths are tragic, but are more the fault of their own individual choices than of the police. That is what juries find time after time. It is also worth adding that in every case, the police officer’s lives are forever altered. Many leave their positions, some retire from community service altogether. And yet, what recompense do we offer them? In what sane world does the family of Breonna Taylor deserve $12 million and the Louisville officers and their families get nothing? The latter was a criminal who died as a result of her boyfriend opening fire on police, and the former were trying to make their community a better place. Does the Floyd family deserve even a penny more than the four Minneapolis officers charged with his death, who, by the day, look more and more justified in their decisions.
There is a middle ground between defending Americans and pushing advocacy so far away from reality that no results make a difference. Legal justice becomes difficult, almost impossible, when one side is constantly shouting the other is racist and imbued with racist legal frameworks despite having limited or ignored evidence. Benjamin Crump might bring individual gains to a hurting family, but he only deepens the hurt of the nation.