Derek Chauvin: all you need to know about the face of US police brutality

Minneapolis, United States: Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd on Tuesday, had a history of using excessive force before the unarmed Black man died under his knee in what prosecutors called a "shocking misuse of power."

Despite the dying man's cries and those of stunned passers-by who filmed the tragedy, Chauvin knelt on the 46-year-old Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes on a Minneapolis street on May 25 last year.

The killing reverberated in the United States and around the world, sparking a confrontation with racial inequality in America.

The guilty verdict is one of the most high-profile, high-stakes court decisions in US history.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's lawyer, said that his client "exuded a cool and professional attitude" in his dealings with Floyd and that he hoped to persuade the jury that the white ex-cop only used a hold that was approved and consistent with his training.

However, the prosecutor successfully argued that Chauvin used excessive force not only with Floyd but also with those he convicted during his 19-year tenure on the force.

During closing arguments on Monday, prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher called Chauvin's conduct against Floyd a "shocking violation of power."

"This was murder, not policing," Schleicher said.

Several police officers were called to testify about Chauvin's unlawful use of force against Floyd by prosecutors.

Medaria Arradondo, the chief of police in Minneapolis, said Chauvin's conduct violated the department's training procedures and "values."

Chauvin, 44, was given the chance to testify in his own defense, but he refused, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

He did, however, attend every day of the trial, dressed in a suit and always taking notes on a yellow legal pad.

Barry Brodd, a former police officer and expert on the use of force, was among those who appeared for the prosecution.

"I thought that Derek Chauvin was justified, that he was behaving objectively fair, that he was upholding Minneapolis Police Department policies and existing law enforcement practices in his encounters with Mr. Floyd," Brodd said.

The jury was clearly divided.

Chauvin was handcuffed and led out of the courthouse after being found guilty on all three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He is currently awaiting sentencing.

22 grievances 

People who have dealt with Chauvin over the years have said that he used more force than was required when applying restraining holds.

The prosecution uncovered numerous instances of his "modus operandi" prior to the trial, including the case of Zoya Code, a young black woman arrested by Chauvin in 2017.

"Even though the female was not physically resisting in any way," the prosecution said, "Chauvin kneeled on her body, using his body weight to hold her to the ground."

"He just stayed on my ear," she told the Marshall Project recently. She challenged him to push harder, frustrated and angry. "And then he did. "Just to silence me," she said. "

Andre Balian, a kung fu instructor who studied with Chauvin some 20 years ago, said there was "no perceptible way" Chauvin was unaware of the harm he did or was capable of doing in circumstances like the one in which he knelt on Floyd's stomach.

He described Chauvin as a "jerk" who would stand with his arms folded and glared at those around him in an interview with AFP last June.

Few facts about Chauvin have emerged since Floyd's murder.

Former coworkers, on the other hand, have painted a picture of a quiet, rigid workaholic who often patrolled the city's more difficult communities.

Over the course of his service, his dedication to the job won him four awards. But, according to a public record scrubbed of all data, he also piled up 22 internal lawsuits and inquiries.

Just one of the various lawsuits, lodged by a white woman whom he had aggressively dragged from her car for speeding in front of her screaming child in 2007, was followed by a letter of reprimand.

Financial deception 

Chauvin had long worked security at the Nuevo Rodeo nightclub on weeknights. His heavy-handed tactics left a sour aftertaste there as well.

Maya Santamaria, the club's former owner, characterized him to reporters as a man with a "true short fuse" who used tear gas liberally at the slightest provocation.

Chauvin, a loner at work, had a partner, a Laotian refugee whom he married in 2010. Kelly Xing filed for divorce in May of this year.

A tax evasion case was filed against the couple, and a judge rejected a divorce settlement that called for all of their properties to be transferred to Xing in November.

The agreement would have protected the funds if Chauvin had been ordered to pay substantial damages.

The city of Minneapolis settled a wrongful death case brought by the Floyd family last month, promising to pay his descendants $27 million for Chauvin's killing.

Share this story