Story at a glance

  • Derek Chauvin, the officer at the center of the George Floyd case, has a complicated history as an officer.
  • He was recognized for his courage and valor, but was the subject of about a dozen complaints.
  • Chauvin has been fired following the incident.

Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer who was seen kneeling on the neck of George Floyd before Floyd died Monday, was the subject of 12 police conduct reports during his 19-year department career, according to NBC News.

Chauvin, who is white, was fired following the incident involving George Floyd, whose gasps for air in distress and cries of “I can’t breathe” while Chauvin kneeled on his neck were recorded on video. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was unarmed and suspected in a forgery case. 

Floyd later died after the encounter. His death has sparked escalating protests in Minneapolis regarding police brutality against people of color.

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Chauvin, along with the three other arresting officers, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, were fired on Tuesday.

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A review of Chauvin’s records by NBC shows that the former officer had about 12 complaints filed against him, including an incident where he fired his weapon at a suspect. Despite these complaints, he was also reportedly praised for “valor” during his 19-year tenure as an officer. Some of the citations included use-of-force incidents and being named in a lawsuit referring to an alleged violation of a prisoner’s constitutional rights. 

In one instance, Chauvin was one of six officers who reportedly responded to a domestic stabbing in a Minneapolis home. A man named Wayne Reyes stabbed his friend and girlfriend, threatening all of them with a shotgun.

When Reyes fled in his truck, police pursued him, and several officers fired multiple shots once Reyes stepped out of the vehicle with the gun. Reyes died at the scene. It is not known if Reyes made any verbal or physical threats to the officers. 


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Chauvin and the other officers were placed on paid leave during an administrative investigation, which is procedural. NBC reports that it is unclear what the results of the investigation were. 

Mylan Masson, a retired Minneapolis Park police officer and police training expert for the state of Minnesota at Hennepin Technical College, told reporters that being the subject of about a dozen complaints during a two-decade career appears “a little bit higher than normal.”

However, Masson also points out that anyone can file a complaint against an officer, regardless of the validity of the claim. Additionally, officers who interact with the public more could naturally receive more complaints. 

Regardless, Masson notes that the record will be taken into account in court and legal proceedings. 

Over the week after Floyd’s death, multiple celebrities, politicians and activists have cried out for justice. Floyd’s sister, Bridgett Floyd, said that the four officers should be charged with murder. 

The FBI is conducting an investigation of the incident. 


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Published on May 28, 2020