Derek Chauvin, 45, had been a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department for more than 19 years before George Floyd’s death. During that time, he was the subject of at least 22 complaints and internal investigations. One of the episodes led to two letters of reprimand — his only formal discipline.
Mr. Chauvin worked in one of Minneapolis’s busiest precincts on its most difficult shift, from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., long after many officers his age had moved to different positions. He earned several awards, including two medals of valor after separate confrontations in which he shot at suspects, one of whom died.
Mr. Chauvin, who is white, was filmed on May 25 of last year pressing his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd, who is Black, for more than nine minutes as Mr. Floyd pleaded with him and repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”
Mr. Chauvin was fired the next day, along with three other officers who had arrived at Cup Foods, a convenience store, after a teenage clerk called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill. In October, Mr. Chauvin was freed from jail while awaiting trial, having posted $100,000 through a bail bond agency. He was initially required to remain in Minnesota, but later was allowed to live in any of the four bordering states (Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota) because of concerns for his safety.
In the weeks after Mr. Chauvin was fired, protesters gathered at his house in the St. Paul suburbs, his wife of 10 years filed for divorce and a picture of his time on the police force emerged. Interviews with his acquaintances depicted him as an awkward and rigid workaholic who had a tendency to overreact.
Mr. Chauvin’s policing has come under scrutiny after he was charged. In 2017, he arrested a Black woman who has said that Mr. Chauvin kept his knee on her body while she was handcuffed and facedown on the ground and pleading, “Don’t kill me.”
In another instance, Mr. Chauvin saved a suicidal man’s life by placing him on his side and riding with him to a hospital. The Police Department commended Mr. Chauvin for the latter action, but prosecutors have argued that it shows he knew it was important to avoid creating breathing problems for people who were restrained.
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