The police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck has been involved in shootings and was the subject of 10 different complaints

Police fire projectiles near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct during protests against George Floyd’s death, May 26, 2020. Floyd, a black man, died after former Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Two of the officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd both have a history of violent incidents.

Floyd’s death became a national flashpoint for racial injustice Tuesday, after footage of now-ousted police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck circulated. Activist groups have called it a “public lynching,” and protesters are clashing with police in Minneapolis.

Four officers, including Chauvin, were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department following Floyd’s death. State authorities and the FBI are investigating the case, and no charges have been brought against the officers.

This is not the first time Chauvin has been involved in a violent incident during his 19 years in the Minneapolis Police Department. He has been involved in violent incidents before, including three police shootings. And he has been the subject of 10 different complaints filed to the city’s Civilian Review Authority and the Office of Police Conduct.

The other officer in the video, Tou Thao, has a record of similar incidents. He settled an excessive-force lawsuit out of court in 2017.

Chauvin has been involved in deaths and shootings before, and has been the subject of several complaints

Chauvin and another officer, Terry Nutter, pursued three young men in a car chase in 2005, according to a 2016 report from Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB).

The officers “slammed into their car,” and Darwin Vivar, 28, and Klevar Jacome, 35, “were killed instantly.”

The third man, 35-year-old Everett Vivar, died several days later. The Minneapolis Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for Chauvin’s full service record.

The next year, in 2006, Chauvin was among six officers to respond to a stabbing, the CUAPB reported.

Wayne Reyes, who reportedly stabbed his girlfriend and a friend, was stopped in his truck by the responding officers. According to police, Reyes pulled a shotgun out. The six police officers fired upon and killed him, according to the CUAPB report.

Two years later, just after 2 a.m. one morning in 2008, Chauvin responded to a 911 domestic assault call in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, the Pioneer Press reported.

Chauvin and his police force partner entered the home, confronting Ira Latrell Toles, whose partner had made the 911 call. Toles ran from the pair, but “they caught and tried to subdue him,” a police statement said. Toles “grabbed at one of the officer’s guns,” and Chauvin shot him in the torso.

Earlier in 2008, the department awarded Chauvin a medal for his valor in response to an incident with an armed man, according to the Pioneer Press.

In 2011, Chauvin was involved in a third police shooting.

He was among five officers to respond to reports of a shooting. Leroy Martinez, a 23-year-old Alaskan Native American, was spotted running from the scene, and the officers gave chase, local news reported.

Martinez brandished a pistol as he fled, the police said. Terry Nutter, one of the responding officers, shot Martinez.

An eyewitness account, reported by the Star Tribune, challenged the police’s claim that Martinez was holding a pistol when he was shot.

“He had no reason to shoot that little boy,” Delora Iceman told the Star Tribune. She said Martinez had dropped the weapon and held his arms in the air before police shot him.

During his nearly two decades with the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin has been the subject of several internal complaints, according to a CUAPB database.

In three separate reviews from the Civilian Review Authority, he was found to have used “demeaning tone,” “derogatory language,” and “language – other.” No other details were available.

He has also been the subject of seven different reviews by the local Office of Police Conduct. Each review concludes: “Closed – No discipline.” No other details were available.

Thao, the officer who stood guard as Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck, settled an excessive-use-of-force lawsuit for $25,000

Thao, who completed police academy training in 2009, was sued for excessive use of force in 2017.

Lamar Ferguson, the plaintiff, was walking with a pregnant woman in 2014 when Thao and another officer, Robert Thunder, stopped and searched the pair, according to the lawsuit.

The officers then began beating Ferguson, they alleged in legal filings.

Ferguson withstood “punches, kicks, and knees to the face and body while [he] was defenseless and handcuffed, was so extreme that it caused [him] to suffer broken teeth as well as other bruising and trauma,” the complaint said.
People face off with police near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct. People gathered at Chicago Ave. and East 38th Street during a rally in Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Then the officers took Ferguson to a local hospital for treatment. When they escorted him to jail afterward, Thunder left him in “in t-shirt and underpants” despite hospital staff’s recommendation that Ferguson should be allowed to put on clothing, and threw the hospital discharge papers in the trash, according to the lawsuit.

In a deposition, Thao said he arrested Ferguson because of an outstanding arrest warrant, adding that he punched Ferguson after one of his hands slipped out of the handcuffs, the Star Tribune reported.

“He tries to pull away,” Thao said. “And he puts his hands on me and tries to give me a stiff arm in a way to try to get me off of him. After – at this point, he’s actively resisting arrest. He – so I had no choice but to punch him. I punched him in the face. It causes him to pause a bit which gives Officer Thunder the time to come around and help.”

The lawsuit was settled out of court for $25,000, one of Ferguson’s attorneys told the Star Tribune.