Two of the four Minneapolis cops involved in George Floyd’s fatal arrest Monday — including the one seen in a viral video kneeling on the black man’s neck for several minutes as he repeatedly cried out that he couldn’t breathe — were previously involved in use-of-force incidents.
The two others haven’t been named.
All four officers were fired Tuesday, just hours before large protests erupted across the Minnesota city of 425,000. The officers were apparently attempting to detain Floyd for an alleged “forgery in progress” outside a local grocery store Monday when he began resisting arrest, according to the Minneapolis Police Department. Once Floyd was in handcuffs, police said, “he appeared to be suffering medical distress.” The 46-year-old died at the hospital that night.
A small group protested Tuesday outside the home of the white, former officer, Derek Chauvin, who was seen in a bystander video pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee as he pleaded for help, water, and his mother. The other named officer in the video, Tou Thao, stood by as bystanders shouted at him.
Chauvin worked for the Minneapolis police department for 19 years before his firing on Tuesday, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and had been involved in at least two officer-involved shootings during his tenure.
One of those shootings took place in 2008, and allegedly occurred because a man reached for an officer's gun while Chauvin was responding to a domestic assault call. Chauvin shot the man in the torso, and was placed on administrative leave, according to the Pioneer Press. The other shooting took place two years earlier, when Chauvin and other cops were responding to an alleged stabbing. The person they were pursuing, Wayne Reyes, allegedly aimed a gun at the officers while fleeing the scene. Officers including Chauvin fired at Reyes and killed him.
Chauvin is being represented by local criminal defense attorney Tom Kelly. Kelly, who didn’t immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment, also represented the officer acquitted on all charges of shooting and killing Philando Castile during a 2017 traffic stop that was, like Floyd’s death, recorded and widely shared on Facebook.
Thao, meanwhile, argued with the aggrieved bystanders who pleaded with Chauvin to stop kneeling on Floyd’s neck. “Don’t do drugs, guys,” Thao said. He was first hired as a community service officer, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It wasn’t immediately clear in what year, but he went through the police academy in 2009.
He and another officer, Robert Thunder, were sued in 2017 for excessive use of force, according to the Star Tribune. In that complaint, Lamar Ferguson alleged that he was walking home with a pregnant woman when Thao and Thunder stopped and frisked him, handcuffed him, and punched and kicked him. The case ended in a $25,000 settlement, according to the Star Tribune.
Thao said in a deposition obtained by the Star Tribune that he and Thunder arrested Ferguson over an outstanding warrant and only beat him after he allegedly resisted arrest.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had retained a lawyer.
Two other officers were involved in Floyd’s arrest, though they haven’t been publicly named. A press release from the Minneapolis police department Monday said only two officers were responsible for locating Floyd, who was sitting in his car when police demanded he get out. It’s not entirely clear how the two unidentified officers were involved. A photo shared by Ben Crump, the attorney for Floyd’s family, showed that the two officers may have been behind the squad car, where they appear to have been helping Chauvin hold him down.
Their body-worn cameras were activated during the arrest, though that footage has not yet been released.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Tuesday that he had received additional information about Floyd’s death, which is now being investigated by state and federal authorities at the request of the city, although he didn’t elaborate.
Floyd’s family members are demanding that all four cops tied to the incident be charged with murder, telling CNN that Floyd, a restaurant bouncer, was a “gentle giant.”
Cover: People stand near the Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct and throw their hands in the air as they chant for George Floyd on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Minneapolis. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)