Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis Police officer who was fired his role in the events leading to George Floyd’s death on Memorial Day, is on trial for murder.
The case quickly prompted nationwide protests over racial justice and left-wing calls to “defund the police,” and more protests in October after Chauvin was released on $1 million bond.
Chauvin, 44, spent 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department and racked up multiple medals for bravery as well as 17 civilian complaints against him. Prior to that, he served as a Military Police officer in the Army and had trained as a cook.
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He joined MPD in 2007 and was reprimanded in 2007 for an incident in which he was accused of pulling a woman out of her car after he caught her driving 10 mph over the speed limit.
He received medals for valor in 2006 and 2008 for an incidents that involved a knife-stabbing suspect who aimed a shotgun at police and for shooting a domestic violence suspect in the stomach.
Other commendations Chauvin earned were for tackling a fleeing armed suspect – and for single-handedly taking down a group of gang members while he was off-duty and working as a security guard at El Nuevo Rodeo nightclub.
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Coincidentally, club owner Maya Santamaria said both Chauvin and Floyd had worked there at various occasions but wasn’t sure if they’d ever met on the job. She also accused Chauvin of being unnecessarily aggressive around Black customers and responding to fights at the venue with pepper spray or by calling in police backup, which she called “overkill.”
Separately, however, she told the Washington Post Chauvin was a “nice guy” and “always mellow,” and she considered him a good friend.
Shortly after his arrest, Chauvin’s wife Kellie filed for divorce.
Opening statements in the trial were scheduled for Monday.
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Floyd, a Black man, died after Chauvin appeared on video pressing his knee to the man’s neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25. The medical examiner ruled the manner of death a homicide – although he also said he found a “pretty high” level of fentanyl in his system.
Police were investigating whether Floyd used a counterfeit bill at a nearby store.
Chauvin, who is White, was fired along with three other officers in the aftermath. He is facing trial separately from the others, on more severe charges including second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter.
Judge Peter A. Cahill, who is overseeing the trial, in January denied defense requests to admit Floyd’s past encounters with police officers as evidence. He also denied prosecutors’ motion to admit 16 incidents involving the officers as evidence – but allowed two incidents involving Chauvin.
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Prosecutors had asked Cahill to allow them to introduce evidence that showed Chauvin had used neck or head and upper body restraints seven times before, including four times in which prosecutors say he went too far.
Cahill ruled that prosecutors can’t bring up most of those prior cases during Chauvin’s trial, but they can tell the jury about a June 2017 arrest in which Chauvin restrained a female by placing his knee on her neck while she was prone on the ground.
The judge also ruled that prosecutors can tell jurors about an August 2015 incident in which Chauvin saw other officers place a suicidal and intoxicated male into a side-recovery position after using a stun gun on him. Prosecutors had noted that the officers received a commendation, after medical professionals said the male could have died if they had prolonged his detention. Cahill said prosecutors can mention it only if they can provide clear and convincing evidence that Chauvin was present when the medical professional made those remarks.
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An attorney for Chauvin did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.
The other three officers involved – Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao – were each charged with two counts of aiding and abetting and second-degree murder. They are expected to stand trial together in August.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.