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Derek Chauvin, officer arrested in George Floyd’s death, has a record of shootings and complaints

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
(Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer arrested in the death of George Floyd, opened fire on two people during his 19-year career. Eighteen conduct complaints were filed against him, two of which resulted in reprimands.

The 44-year-old officer, who is white, is seen in a video kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who later died. Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter as violent protests raged across the country.

Police records and news accounts show that Chauvin had been involved in shootings and deaths, but also received a police department medal of valor in 2008, and was recognized again two years later. He has not spoken publicly since Floyd’s death, and his attorney, Tom Kelly, did not return a call on Friday seeking comment.

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In 2005, two people died when their car was hit by a vehicle being chased by Chauvin and Officer Terry Nutter, according to a report by Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Minneapolis nonprofit that monitors police conduct. Another person who had been riding in the car died a few days later, the report said.

The next year, Chauvin was among six officers who opened fire on Wayne Reyes, a stabbing suspect, after a chase that ended when he pointed a sawed-off shotgun at them, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Reyes was hit multiple times and died. A grand jury decided the use of force was justified.

Also in 2006, a prison inmate filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Minneapolis Police Department and officers including Chauvin. Court records do not show specifics of the case, which was dismissed after the plaintiff failed to pay a filing fee.
Chauvin responded to a report of domestic abuse at a couple’s home, forced his way into a bathroom where Ira Latrell Toles was hiding, and when Toles reached for his gun, shot him twice in the stomach, the Pioneer Press reported at the time. Toles survived and was accused of felony obstruction.

Toles, 33, told the Daily Beast this week that Chauvin broke down the bathroom door and began hitting him. He said he fought back in self-defense. Toles said he ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, and still feels pain from the wounds.

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Chauvin was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, and ultimately returned to duty. “I knew he would do something again,” Toles told the Daily Beast.

In 2011, Chauvin was placed on leave again with other officers after they chased Leroy Martinez, a Native American man seen running with a pistol. Nutter, the officer involved in the fatal 2005 car chase, shot Martinez, who survived, the Pioneer Press reported.

A list of complaints filed against Chauvin during his career is posted in a database on the police department website, which includes no details of accusations. Anyone can file a complaint against an officer, whether or not it’s valid.

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Tou Thao, an officer seen in Monday’s cellphone video standing guard as Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground with his knee, has six complaints listed on the department’s site. Each was closed with no disciplinary action, except one that remains open.
Thao, Officer Robert Thunder and the city of Minneapolis were sued in federal court in 2017 for alleged use of excessive force. Lamar Ferguson claimed that the officers stopped him in 2014 and beat him up. In a deposition, Thao said he punched Ferguson after one hand slipped out of his handcuffs.

“At this point he’s actually resisting arrest,” Thao said in the deposition. “So I had no choice but to punch him.”

The case settled out of court for $25,000, according to Seth Leventhal, one of Ferguson’s attorneys.


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