Who is Derek Chauvin?
Derek Chauvin, 44, the officer filmed kneeling George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, is a 19-year veteran of the force. Chauvin was involved in a fatal police shooting and one of the other fired officers paid a $25K settlement after being sued for using excessive force in arrest where he punched and kicked a handcuffed suspect. Derek Chauvin was investigated in 2006 over a fatal police shooting and again in 2008 and 2011 for two more shootings. A second officer involved in Monday’s arrest, Tou Thao, was sued in 2017 for using excessive force. The lawsuit, accuses him of punching and kicking a handcuffed suspect. George Floyd died Monday in police custody, hours after footage showed cop Chauvin knelt on him for eight minutes during the forgery arrest in Minneapolis; all four officers involved in Monday’s incident were fired. The remaining two officers have also been named as Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng, both are rookie cops still in their probationary periods.
The Events Leading to George Floyd Death.
The arrest that sparked the fatal chain of events happened about 8 p.m. Monday, when police were called to investigate a report of someone trying to pay with a counterfeit bill at Cup Foods, 3759 Chicago Av., and found the man matching the suspect’s description in his car, according to police and scanner audio posted online. Cup Foods’ owner, Mike Abumayyaleh, later confirmed that one of his employees had followed store policy by calling police after someone, thought to be George Floyd, tried to pay with a counterfeit $20 bill. Abumayyaleh said he’s been receiving death threats since then.
Officers ordered George Floyd out of the car and took him into custody, police spokesman John Elder said, adding that their body cameras were rolling the whole time. The arrest also was streamed by a bystander on Facebook Live, where the archived footage approached 1 million views as of Tuesday evening.
The video captures Derek Chauvin with his knee on the neck of Floyd, who is lying face down on the street next to the rear passenger wheel, writhing, while repeatedly telling police he couldn’t breathe as three officers hold him down.
“Please, please, please I can’t breathe. Please, man,” Floyd is heard pleading with the officers. At one point, he cries out for his mother.
By then, several other witnesses had gathered on the sidewalk outside of Cup Foods, with several recording the scene on their phones. “Bro, you’ve got him down, let him breathe at least, man,” one bystander is heard telling police.
At one point, as a group of bystanders continue to plead for the officers to check Floyd’s pulse, an officer, believed to be Thao, can be heard saying, “Don’t do drugs, guys.”
“So you call what he’s doing OK?” one bystander asks, referring to Chauvin.
As Floyd begins to lose consciousness, the group of bystanders becomes increasingly agitated. Among them was a woman who identified herself as an off-duty firefighter and first responder.
“The fact that you guys aren’t checking his pulse and doing compressions if he needs them, you guys are on another level!” she said.
Thao is then shown moving away from his colleagues to tell the crowd to “get back on the sidewalk.” As he moves toward them, one of the bystanders points out that Floyd no longer seems to be moving.
A short time later, paramedics arrive and put him onto a gurney and into a waiting ambulance. Floyd was taken to HCMC, where he died at 9:25 p.m. The cause of his death is “pending further testing and investigation” by multiple agencies, according to the medical examiner.
No weapons were recovered from the scene, police said.
The footage doesn’t capture what led to Floyd’s arrest, only picking up after he has already been taken to the ground and is in handcuffs.
Darnella Frazier, who filmed and posted the encounter, told the Star Tribune that she started recording “as soon as I heard him trying to fight for his life” in front of her and other bystanders near the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue S.
“It was like a natural instinct, honestly” to start recording, said Frazier, who lives in the neighborhood. “The world needed to see what I was seeing. Stuff like this happens in silence too many times.”
Later on Tuesday, Frey and Council Member Andrea Jenkins, who represents the ward where Floyd died, joined editors of traditional black publications North News and Insight News for an emotional 45-minute Facebook live session.
The conversation later turned to the MPD’s initial news release that said Floyd died after a “medical incident,” which sparked widespread criticism on social media that the department appeared to be downplaying his death.
Jenkins pointed out that the MPD has its own communications department and issues statements without vetting at City Hall.
“The statement that was put out was almost as harmful the perpetration of the act,” Jenkins said. “We all watched that video, there were no medical concerns prior” to the officer putting his knee on Floyd.
Elder, the police spokesman, at first said that Floyd had gotten out of the car on his own, but “physically resisted” officers and was handcuffed, before officers noticed that he was in “medical distress.” Elder later walked back some of those statements, saying they were based on preliminary information.
The technique used, he added, was not a department-authorized chokehold.
All body camera footage has been turned over to the BCA, which said in a news release that its investigation was separate from the FBI’s civil rights investigation, and that it would turn over its findings to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges.
The racially charged death also threatened to reignite tensions between police and minority communities that reached a boiling point in 2015 after the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark and a weekslong protest outside a nearby police station that followed.
Nekima Levy-Armstrong, a prominent local voice on police reform who was a fixture at those protests, said that for all the gains that people of color have made, deaths like Floyd’s are another reminder that the system remains stacked against them.
“It just reminds me of Eric Garner once again: a black man being accosted by police and pleading for his life saying he couldn’t breathe,” she said, referring to an unarmed New York man who died in 2014 after being placed in a police chokehold. “I’m fully convinced that if police wouldn’t have been called to the scene, then he would still be alive.”
Police said no weapons were used and body cameras were activated. The names of the officers involved will be released once interviews with incident participants and witnesses have taken place, the BCA stated.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has spoken with a woman who said she witnessed the incident. Darnella Frazier told us she recorded the incident from the moment the man was placed in handcuffs.
A clip of that video can be seen via the video player above. The video, which she posted on Facebook, has now received tens of thousands of views.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is working to independently confirm the video appearing to show the incident. In the video, a police officer can be seen with his knee on the man’s neck. The man can be heard saying he can’t breathe.
Frazier told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the man was not given aid until medics arrived on scene.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to the Minneapolis Police Department to talk about the video. A police spokesman said the department does not comment on investigations that the BCA handles.
The FBI is conducting a separate federal civil rights investigation, per request by the Minneapolis Police Department, according to a release issued Tuesday morning.
The FBI made the following statement about the case. “The FBI’s investigation will focus on whether the Minneapolis Police Department officers involved willfully deprived the individual of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
When completed, the FBI will present its findings to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota for consideration of possible federal charges.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) continues to conduct a concurrent investigation into the incident regarding possible violations of Minnesota statutes.”
George Floyd and Derek Chauvin Were Former Colleagues at El Nuevo Rodeo Club.
A former club owner in Minneapolis says that both George Floyd and the police officer seen kneeling on his neck moments before he died in custody on Monday both worked security at her business until the end of last year. George Floyd and Derek Chauvin worked at the same Minneapolis club, but may not have known each other.
The men were both employed at El Nuevo Rodeo Club for the whole of 2019, according to Maya Santamaria, the club’s former owner, who sold it last year.
‘Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open,’ Maya Santamaria told KSTP-TV.
Floyd worked as a bouncer at the club for 2019, she said. Santamaria said that she is not sure if the two men knew each other since there were some two dozen security guards, including off-duty officers, working at her club on any given night. But she revealed there were occasions when they would have been working at the same event.
‘They were working together at the same time, it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.’
Chauvin was the club’s off-duty police officer for 17 years and Floyd worked as a bouncer during 2019. “They were working together at the same time; it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside,” she said.
In a separate interview, Santamaria told the Star Tribune newspaper: “If they would have crossed paths, it would probably not have been something they remembered.”
Santamaria, who recently sold the venue, said Chauvin got along well with the regular Latino customers but did not like to work the African American nights. When he did, and there was a fight, he would spray people with mace and call for police backup and half-dozen squad cars would soon show up, something she felt was “overkill.”
According to Santamaria, Chauvin had a tendency to flash his temper and overreact to situations. ‘He sometimes had a real short fuse and he seemed afraid,’ she said. ‘When there was an altercation he always resorted to pulling out his mace and pepper spraying everybody right away, even if I felt it was unwarranted.’ Santamaria wondered if Monday’s incident could have turned out differently if Chauvin recognized Floyd from their days working at her club. ‘What if he could’ve just said “Hey, man, you and I worked together at Maya’s place. Remember me?”’, she said.
Derek Chauvin History of Police Brutalities.
Two of the cops fired over the arrest of black man George Floyd have already been investigated for their roles in previous use-of-force incidents, it has been revealed. Derek Chauvin was investigated for his role in the 2008 shooting of Ira Latrell Toles during a domestic assault call. Toles was wounded after police said he went for an officer’s gun and Chauvin shot him. Two years earlier Wayne Reyes, 42 was killed by officers after allegedly pulling a shotgun on the six cops, which included Chauvin, The Star Tribune reports. A second officer involved in Monday’s arrest, Tou Thao, was part of a $25,000 out of court settlement after being sued for using excessive force in 2017. In a lawsuit obtained by the DailyMail.com shows Thao was sued for using excessive force in arrest where he was accused of punching and kicking a handcuffed suspect ‘until his teeth broke’.
The second officer, Thao, was sued in 2017 by Lamar Ferguson who said the cop had used excessive force during his arrest.
A lawsuit obtained by DailMail.com states ‘Defendant Thunder and Defendant Thao’s use of unreasonable force on Plaintiff, in the form of punches, kicks, and knees to the face and body while Plaintiff was defenseless and handcuffed, was so extreme that it caused Plaintiff to suffer broken teeth as well as other bruising and trauma.’
The case was settled out of court for $25,000 after Thao said he had punched Ferguson after he ‘actively resisted arrest’.
He wrote: ‘After, at this point he’s actively resisting arrest. He, so I had no choice but to punch him. I punched him in the face.’
All four officers were fired Tuesday. DailyMail.com has contacted Minneapolis police for comment and for the officers’ full records with the department.
Chauvin is said to be represented by lawyer Tom Kelly. He was Jeronimo Yavez’ attorney after the Minnesota police officer fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in 2016.
Yavez was found not guilty on all three charges by a jury in 2017.
The remaining two officers have been identified by the city as Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng.
Both were reportedly rookie cops who were still in their probationary periods, according to the StarTribune.
The FBI and state law enforcement authorities have launched an investigation into the man’s death.
Minneapolis cops in riot gear last night fired rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of defiant protesters who took to the streets to demand justice for Floyd and protesters began to gather Tuesday for a second day of demonstrations.
The victim’s heartbroken family have called for the cops to be charged with murder.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced Tuesday that four officers are now ‘former employees’ of the force.
‘We know there are inherent dangers in the profession of policing but the vast majority of the work we do never require the use of force,’ Arradondo said.
Floyd’s death has caused outrage across America with political figures and celebrities including Cardi B, P Diddy and Demi Lovato voicing their anger.
Floyd worked as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro, a local bistro in Minneapolis. The bar’s owners have described him as a ‘very calm, nice guy’ who was not the type to be ‘aggressive’ or ‘disrespectful’.
Ben Crump, the attorney for the victim’s family has demanded officers face murder charges over the killing and said this is ‘worse than Eric Garner’ because the officers held Floyd down by the neck for eight minutes.
Crump pointed to the similarities in the case with the death of unarmed black man Garner who died in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by New York City police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.
Kellie Chauvin, Wife of Derek Chauvin Divorcing Him.
Kellie Chauvin, the wife of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, says she is filing for divorce and her ‘utmost sympathy’ lies with the family of George Floyd. ‘Her utmost sympathy lies with [Floyd’s] family, with his loved ones and with everyone who is grieving this tragedy,’ a statement from Chauvin’s attorney read in part. Kellie Chauvin was born in Laos in 1974 during a time of war. In 1977, her family fled to safety in Thailand, where they lived in a refugee camp, The Associated Press reported. In 2018, she was crowned Mrs. Minnesota.
Derek Chauvin Quick Facts.
- The Minneapolis police officer shown on video kneeling on George Floyd’s neck as Floyd pleaded for help, along with another officer who stood by and watched, have both been involved in use-of-force incidents over their careers.
- Officer Derek Chauvin has been identified as the officer pinning down Floyd in the now-viral video, which shows Floyd saying he can’t breathe repeatedly before losing consciousness. Floyd later died. Four officers on scene have been fired. They have not yet been officially identified by department officials.
- Chauvin, 44 years old, is a 19-year department veteran. Department records and news accounts show that he has been involved in several police-involved shootings over his career.
- In 2008, Chauvin shot and wounded Ira Latrell Toles during a domestic assault call. According to a 2011 article from the Pioneer Press, Chauvin and other officers showed up to an apartment in south Minneapolis just before 2 a.m. Toles grabbed for an officer’s gun and Chauvin shot him in the abdomen.
- In 2006, Chauvin and five others responded to a stabbing. After Wayne Reyes, 42, allegedly pulled a shotgun on the officers, one of the officers shot and killed Reyes, according to a report titled “Stolen Lives” from Communities United Against Police Brutality, a police watchdog nonprofit based in Minneapolis.
- The other officer identified in the video is Tou Thao. According to a deposition he gave in a 2017 lawsuit, Thao started with the department as a community service officer. He went through the academy in 2009. He was laid off for two years and returned to the department in 2012.
- In 2017, Lamar Ferguson sued Thao and another officer, Robert Thunder, for excessive use of force. According to the lawsuit, Ferguson and a woman who was eight months pregnant were walking home when Thao and Thunder stopped and searched them without cause. The officers handcuffed Ferguson, and Thao threw him to the ground and began punching him, while Thunder kicked him, according to the allegations.
- The officers took Ferguson to the hospital for medical treatment. Afterward, they escorted Ferguson to jail wearing only his underwear and T-shirt, rejecting hospital staff’s requests that he be allowed to fully dress, according to the complaint.
- In a deposition, Thao said they arrested Ferguson due to an outstanding arrest warrant. He said he only punched Ferguson after one of Ferguson’s hands slipped out of the handcuffs. “He tries to pull away,” Thao said in the deposition. “And he puts his hands on me and tries to give me a stiff arm in a way to try to get me off of him. After, at this point he’s actively resisting arrest. He, so I had no choice but to punch him. I punched him in the face. It causes him to pause a bit which gives Officer Thunder the time to come around and help.” The case settled out of court for $25,000, according to Seth Leventhal, one of Ferguson’s attorneys.
Colin Kaepernick starts legal defense fund.
Colin Kaepernick, along with his nonprofit Know Your Rights Camp, has started a Legal Defense Initiative to support protesters in Minneapolis who may need legal resources. Colin Kaepernick has long spoken out about police brutality, so his new venture should come as no surprise. Kaepernick, along with his nonprofit Know Your Rights Camp, has started a Legal Defense Initiative to support protesters in Minneapolis who may need legal resources.
Derek Chauvin is on ‘suicide watch’.
TMZ reported Saturday that Derek Michael Chauvin has a camera focused on him all day and and cops check on his cell in person every 15 minutes. It adds that Chauvin, who was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday, is under constant surveillance and is in isolation in Ramsey County Jail in St. Paul, Minnesota.
He remains in a single cell in a part of the facility set aside for high-profile cases. TMZ adds that a source says that the former police officer didn’t make eye contact with anyone when he was brought into the jail on Friday and that he was subject to an unclothed body search.
He was then placed in a prison uniform and led to his cell. Checks on a cell every 15 minutes are said to be common in such a high-profile case, TMZ’s source said, but it is not confirmed if there is a threat to Chauvin’s life.
Chauvin is reported to have 23 hours in his cell a day with one hour for recreation. He also has access to books, pencils and paper. Chauvin was taken into custody on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. His bail was set for $500,000.
George Floyd’s Family Calls for Murder Charges.
After four police officers were fired over the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Floyd’s family said those consequences are not nearly enough. They want the officers involved charged with murder.
“Firing them is a good start, but we want to see justice for our family,” Floyd’s cousin Tera Brown told CNN’s Don Lemon. “We want to see them charged. We want to have them arrested.” This was a murder, she said.
Brown was joined in the interview by Floyd’s two brothers.
“They took a life, and now they deserve life,” said Philonise Floyd. “I don’t feel sorry for them. They hurt me and they hurt my family.”
George Floyd died after an incident that was caught on tape Monday. An officer with the Minneapolis Police Department (later identified as Derek Chauvin) kneeled on Floyd’s neck. Floyd was clearly distressed, saying that he couldn’t breathe, and pleaded for the cop to get off his neck.
“I can’t breathe,” he said.
Bystanders demanded that the police officer get off of his neck.
“You could’ve put him in the fucking car by now, bro,” said one man. “He’s not resisting arrest or nothing.” He accused the officer of enjoying this.
By now, Floyd had stopped moving. Bystanders said he’d passed out, and demanded that cops check Floyd’s pulse. A second officer at the scene (later identified as Tou Thao) stood in the way of them.
“Did they just kill him?” said a woman.
An EMT arrived at the scene. Officials dragged Floyd’s limp body onto a gurney and into the ambulance. Bystanders said the police had just killed him.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced on Tuesday that the four responding officers had been fired. Only Chauvin and Thao were identified.
The incident landed squarely on a cultural fissure, and fueled an ongoing debate on how police officers treat people of color, especially black men. Floyd was black. Chauvin is white. Thao is Asian. Police have said that the officers were investigating an alleged forgery.
The two officers were identified by a “source with knowledge of the investigation” cited by KSTP.
Tom Kelly, an attorney for Chauvin, declined to comment in an Associated Press report.
“Now is not the time rush to judgement and immediately condemn our officers,” said Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, in a WCCO report. “An in-depth investigation is underway. Our officers are fully cooperating. We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report.”
Barack Obama Reactions.
Former President Barack Obama posted a statement on Twitter on Friday, writing that, “This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
He added, “It falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station, including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day, to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”
Ava DuVernay Reactions.
Director DuVernay tweeted a memorial directly to Floyd, as well, writing, “You deserved your breath, your dignity, your life.” She added that, “We must act, for you, and for all of those [where] no cameras are present. We must.”
George Floyd’s Sister Reactions.
Floyd’s sister Bridgett spoke to the “Today” show on Wednesday morning with the family’s lawyer, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing Ahmaud Arbery’s family. A white Georgia father and son have been arrested and charged in the shooting death of Arbery, a black man who was jogging in their neighborhood.
“Me and my family are taking this very, very hard,’’ Bridgett Floyd told the “Today” show. “It’s very heartbreaking.” She added that, “I would like for those officers to be charged with murder, because that’s exactly what they did. They murdered my brother. He was crying for help.”