The Minneapolis police officer who was filmed kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for several minutes even as he said “I can’t breathe” has previously been the subject of multiple complaints filed to the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division, it has emerged.
Mr Chauvin, who has been fired along with the other three police officers who apprehended Mr Floyd, was reported to the division 18 times. According to a police summary, only two of the complaints were “closed with discipline”.
While full details of Mr Chauvin’s career have yet to be released, he is known to have also been involved in several police shootings, and has been the subject of several complaints filed by civilians to police oversight bodies.
Another of the officers involved in Mr Floyd’s death has also had complaints filed against him. Tou Thao had had six complaints filed against him to internal affairs. The police summary indicated that five were closed without complaint, while one is still open. Mr Thao also settled out of court in an excessive use of force case in 2017.
Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey has called for Mr Chauvin to feel the full force of law enforcement, asking on Wednesday: “Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail? If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now.”
Mr Floyd’s killing has ignited some of the most intense rioting the US has seen in years, with hundreds of protesters clashing with the police around the area where he was arrested. Riot gear-clad police have deployed tear gas and stun grenades in as they attempt to control the crowd, while vandalism and looting have spread rapidly.
Several buildings have been damaged or destroyed by fire, including the third police precinct building nearby, and one man has been confirmed dead after a shooting. The National Guard has been sent in to help stabilise the situation.
Various false rumours are circulating online about Mr Chauvin’s past and his political views. Among them is a claim that he can be seen in footage of a Minneapolis Trump rally, standing on stage wearing a “Cops for Trump” tshirt; the man in the footage has in fact been identified as Mike Gallagher of Bloomington, Minnesota.
Also circulating is a photo purporting to show Mr Chauvin wearing a hat saying “Make Whites Great Again”. Like the video, it also depicts someone else entirely, in this case serial prankster and nuisance litigant Jonathan Lee Riches.