Kanye West’s latest controversial remarks could land him in a legal battle.
The artist and entrepreneur, who has changed his name to Ye, spoke on a recent episode of the podcast “Drink Champs,” where he discussed the death of George Floyd and several other topics.
“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 him with the fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that.”
Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, according to Chauvin trial testimony by the medical examiner who performed Floyd’s autopsy and stood by his initial finding that his death was the result of “cardiopulmonary arrest” that occurred during “law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker said during his testimony that Floyd’s heart disease and use of fentanyl were contributing factors to his death, but not the direct cause.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who has represented the Floyd family, tweeted Sunday that they are considering legal action against West.
“While one cannot defame the dead, the family of #GeorgeFloyd is considering suit for Kanye’s false statements about the manner of his death,” Merritt tweeted. “Claiming Floyd died from fentanyl not the brutality established criminally and civilly undermines & diminishes the Floyd family’s fight.”
Merritt told CNN he was alerted to West’s comments by Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, who told him he wanted to pursue a defamation suit against the celebrity.
While that’s not legally possible because George Floyd is deceased, Merritt said, there are other legal avenues to pursue, including the Floyd family possibly suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“I have put together a working team to investigate [West’s] statements and to investigate the source of those statements,” Merritt said.
CNN has reached out to a representative of West for additional comment.
West’s remarks about Floyd come amid backlash for recent social media posts by West that were criticized as anti-Semetic and his decision to dress himself and several models “White Lives Matter” shirts at a recent fashion show.
Video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes sparked protests and calls for justice around the world.
Chauvin was convicted in April 2021 on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 22 and half years in prison.