Derek Chauvin was born in 1976. His mother was a housewife and his father was a certified public accountant. At the age of seven, his parents divorced and were granted joint custody of him.
Chauvin attended Park High School in Cottage Grove Minnesota, but did not finish and later obtained a GED certificate.
He earned a certificate in Quantity Food Preparation at Dakota County Technical College and worked jobs as a prep cook at McDonalds and a South Metro Buffet Restaurant.
He served in the United States Army Reserve from 1996 to 2004, including two stints in the Military Police between 1996 and 2000.
During that time, he also attended Inver Hills Community College from 1995 to 1999 and later transferred to Metropolitan State University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement in 2006.
Chauvin joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 2001.
He received a medal for valour in 2006 for being one of several officers who fired on a suspect who pointed a shotgun at them, and another in 2008 for a domestic-violence incident in which he broke down a door and shot a suspect who reached for his pistol.
He received a commendation medal in 2008 after he and his partner tackled a fleeing suspect holding a pistol. He received a commendation medal in 2009 after working off-duty as a security guard for a nightclub.
Chauvin had 18 complaints on his official record, two of which ended in discipline, including official letters of reprimand.
There have been at least 15 conduct complaints against him, citing records from the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs. Most of the complaints were closed without discipline.
Chauvin’s personal files were heavily redacted, but there are details of one complaint from 2007.
It concerns allegations that Chauvin pulled a woman from her car and frisked her after she was caught driving 10mph (16 km/h) over the speed limit.
A report found Chauvin did not record audio of the incident and failed to switch his dashboard camera on during the stop.
He was disciplined for this complaint and one other, receiving a letter of reprimand on both occasions, records show.
He had been involved in three Police shootings, one of which was fatal.
According to the former owner of El Nuevo Rodeo, a Latin nightclub, Chauvin had worked there off duty as security while George Floyd was also working as security, but was not certain whether they knew each other.
The owner has been critical of Chauvin since his arrest, describing Chauvin’s tactics as “overkill” and saying “Chauvin was unnecessarily aggressive on nights when the club had a black clientele, quelling fights by dousing the crowd with pepper spray and calling in several Police squad cars as backup”.
The owner also said Chauvin responded to fights by spraying the crowd with mace instead of dealing with those who were fighting.
On May 25, 2020, Chauvin was one of four officers involved in arresting George Floyd on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a market and was the field training officer for one of the other officers involved.
Security camera footage from a nearby business did not show Floyd resisting the arrest.
The criminal complaint stated that, based on body camera footage, Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe while standing outside the police car, resisted getting in the car and fell down; he went to the ground face down.
While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on the street, Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. After Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck, Floyd repeatedly said “I can’t breathe”, “Mama”, and “Please”.
For part of the time, two other officers knelt on Floyd’s back. During the final two minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse.
Several bystanders took videos which were widely circulated and broadcast.
Chauvin and the other officers involved were fired the day following the incident.
While knee-to-neck restraints are allowed in Minnesota under certain circumstances, Chauvin’s use of the technique has been widely criticized by law enforcement experts as excessive.
On June 23, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said that Chauvin had been trained in the dangers of positional asphyxiation and characterized Floyd’s death as murder.
Chauvin was arrested on May 29, 2020.
The next day, Chauvin was fired by the Minneapolis Police Department. He is charged with second-degree murder and lesser included offenses.
The incident set off a series of protests in the Twin Cities and across the rest of the United States, later spreading around the world.
Chauvin was released on bail on October 7, 2020. His murder trial began on March 8, 2021.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman charged him with third-degree murder and the lesser included offense of second degree manslaughter, making him the first white officer in Minnesota to be charged in the death of a black civilian.
Under Minnesota law, third-degree murder is defined as causing another’s death without intent to kill, but “evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life”.
Second degree manslaughter also does not imply lethal intent, but that the perpetrator created “an unreasonable risk” of serious harm or death.
On May 31, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison took over the case at the request of Governor Tim Walz.
On June 3, Ellison amended the charges against Chauvin to include unintentional second-degree murder under the felony murder doctrine, alleging that Chauvin killed Floyd in the course of committing assault in the third degree.
Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommend 12.5 years imprisonment on conviction of that charge.
Bail for Chauvin was set at $1.25 million.
Prior to Chauvin’s arrest, his attorney and prosecutors had made unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a plea bargain to cover both state and federal charges.
Additionally, Ellison also charged the three other officers with aiding and abetting second-degree murder with bail set to $1 million.
Eight correctional officers at the Ramsey County Jail filed a discrimination complaint against supervisors at the jail with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, alleging that during Chauvin’s brief stay before his transfer to a state prison, non-white guards were not allowed to work on the fifth floor where Chauvin was being held. Their complaint also alleged that a guard saw a white lieutenant sit on Chauvin’s bed and that she permitted Chauvin to use her cell phone.
Responding to the complaint, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights says it was opening an investigation to determine whether discrimination took place.
Chauvin was released on conditional bail on October 7, 2020 after posting a bond of $1 million.
Court documentation provided that, as conditions for his bail, Chauvin’s supervised release from prison will be forfeited if he declines to appear before a magistrate, refuses to appear in court on scheduled dates, leaves the state of Minnesota without court approval, or has contact with Floyd’s family.
On October 22, 2020, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the third-degree murder charge, but also denied Chauvin’s motion to dismiss the other, more serious murder charges.
On November 5, 2020, Judge Cahill ruled that Chauvin and all three of the others charged would be tried together in Hennepin County.
However, on January 13, 2021, Judge Cahill reversed his earlier ruling, deciding that Chauvin would be tried separately from the other three officers.
Chauvin’s trial began on March 8, 2021, at the Hennepin County Government Centre.
It marked the first time that a judge in Minnesota authorized cameras to show a full criminal trial.
The US Department of Justice convened a grand jury in February 2021 to investigate Chauvin for several civil rights charges. The investigation included the killing of Floyd on May 25, 2020, and other incidents involving Chauvin, such as a September 2017 case where Chauvin pinned a 14-year old boy for several minutes with his knee while ignoring the boy’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe; the boy briefly lost consciousness. Though the 2017 case was similar to the 2020 killing of Floyd, it was deemed as inadmissible by the judge overseeing the trial of Chauvin for Floyd’s murder.
On July 22, 2020, after the murder charges were brought against him, Chauvin and his wife were separately charged in Washington County, Minnesota with multiple felony counts of tax evasion related to allegedly fraudulent state income tax returns from 2014 to 2019.
Prosecutors state that the couple under-reported their joint income by a total of $464,433, including more than $95,000 from Chauvin’s off-duty security work.
The complaint also alleges failure to pay proper sales tax on a $100,000 BMW purchased in Minnesota in 2018, failure to declare income from Chauvin’s wife’s business, and improperly accounted-for deductions on a rental home.
Chauvin’s wife, a real estate agent and photographer, is a Hmong refugee from Laos who competed in a “Mrs. Minnesota” beauty pageant in 2018.
She filed for divorce the day before he was arrested for Floyd’s death.