When former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin approached her vehicle in January 2020, months before he murdered George Floyd, Patty Day said she was struggling emotionally, coping with a sad divorce from the father of her two young children and drinking too much.

In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday by renowned police brutality lawyer Bob Bennett, Day said Chauvin escalated what should have been a routine roadside encounter into violence, leaving the woman with a broken front tooth, a bleeding hand, an injured shoulder and bruises all over her arms.

The lawsuit says Chauvin threw her face down in the street, "then assumed his signature pose, pressing his knee into the subdued and handcuffed Patty's back — just as he would later do to snuff the life out of George Floyd — and remaining that way well after Patty was controlled."

The 42-page federal civil rights complaint seeks at least $9 million in damages from Chauvin, his partner that day, Ellen Jensen, and the city of Minneapolis. Jensen not only participated but failed to intervene while Chauvin put Day under his knee, the lawsuit maintains.

The city's "longstanding custom and practice of unchecked" use-of-force violations by police "officers against its citizenry was the moving force behind the violation of Patty's constitutional rights," the lawsuit adds.

Bennett, of the Robins Kaplan law firm, has made a career out of winning large brutality settlements because of violent actions by the Minneapolis Police Department. In April 2023, Bennett won settlements of $7.5 million and $1.375 million from the city over Chauvin's treatment of John Pope Jr. and Zoya Code.

The claim against the city in Day's case is strikingly similar to those of Pope and Code. "The City knew its officers, including Chauvin, were applying force to the necks and backs of prone (lying on their stomach) arrestees, despite the known, appreciated, and obvious risk of causing serious injury or death from positional asphyxia," the lawsuit says.

Day recalled the encounter in an interview with her lawyers Monday. "The look in his eye was so evil. I feared for my life. I didn't know if I was going to survive this. It all escalated so quickly," she said.

On that day, Day had been drinking, took a nap, woke up to an alarm and jumped in her van to pick up her child from day care. After just a couple blocks, she said, she realized she had to pull over. Turning off the van and tossing the keys in the back, she sobbed until she fell asleep. She had forgotten her cellphone in the rush and couldn't call for help.

It was so cold she used the remote starter to fire up the engine and get some heat. The keys weren't in the ignition and she had no plans to drive, Day said.

Residents of a nearby house came out to talk to her and she told them she was having a bad time. They eventually called police. Chauvin and Jensen showed up after 8 p.m., the lawsuit said. As the two approached the van, Day was talking to the neighbors who told the officers she was having a tough time at home.

Chauvin, however, reached into the vehicle, opened the door, grabbed Day's left arm while Jensen grabbed her right. "They threw me fast down into the street in the snow very forcefully," Day said. "They didn't ask me to get out of the car. I wasn't being combative. I wasn't being difficult. I just wanted them to know I wasn't trying to drive."

Day said the neighbors watched as Chauvin got on top of her. "I was screaming 'no' and I was screaming to the neighbors, 'are you seeing this?'" she said.

Chauvin took her to the squad vehicle and threw her in sideways, hands cuffed tightly behind her back and bleeding. A third officer came to arrest her for driving while intoxicated. Day said he was kind.

But no use-of-force report was filed and the city has yet to share the body-worn video footage with her. Lawyer Katie Bennett said it's time for Minneapolis to turn over the footage. "We gave them a year. We've been patient enough," she said.

The lawsuit said the "city's recalcitrance is unsurprising, as the city attorney's office routinely uses faux confidentiality concerns under the Minnesota Government Data to withhold BWC (body-worn camera) video from persons depicted thereon—despite clear law mandating its release."

In reports filed that evening, neither Jensen nor Chauvin recounted the extent of their assault on Day, the lawsuit said. According to their police reports, the officers said they ordered Day out of the van.

Officer Jeremy Brodin came and arrested her on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. She went downtown for testing, which revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.25%, nearly triple the legal threshold for driving. She was charged with two gross misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated.

After an evidentiary hearing in Day's criminal case in February 2021, Hennepin County District Judge Julie Allyn saw the video footage of her arrest. Allyn concluded that Day "was not given any orders before officers began pulling her out of the vehicle" nor was she informed she was under arrest, the lawsuit said.

At the hearing, Assistant Minneapolis City Attorney Annalise Backstrom, who had seen the footage, said in court, "I just want to make clear that my office and myself in particular don't condone the way that the interaction went down in this particular case."

She said the city agreed to drop the charge to a fourth-degree DWI as a compromise because of how Day was treated. "In other words, one of Minneapolis's own attorneys, as well as city management, had reviewed the BWC video and clearly found the officers' conduct out of bounds," the lawsuit said.

In April 2021, Allyn issued a motion suppressing evidence, including the blood-alcohol test because she said the officers lacked probable cause to arrest Day for a DWI when they yanked her from the van. The city then dismissed the charges.

The city didn't respond to a request for comment.