UPDATED: 8:54 a.m. ET, June 10 —
More information is coming to light about the reportedly existing relationship between George Floyd and Derek Chauvin, the fired police officer who us charged with murdering the unarmed Black man in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. The two reportedly once had jobs that overlapped working security at a Minneapolis night club.
A former coworker at El Nuevo Rodeo insisted that the two would have recognized one another and that Chauvin was “extremely aggressive within the club with some of the patrons,” according to a report from Newsweek.
David Pinney, who worked at El Nuevo Rodeo at the same time when Floyd and Chauvin did, said the fired cop “knew” Floyd. “I would say pretty well,” he added.
Pinney’s comments came on the day of Floyd’s funeral in Houston which took place more than two weeks after the police killing that was recorded on video by one of many witnesses. Chauvin was arrested and charged on May 29 with third-degree murder and manslaughter. On June 3, his charges were upgraded to second-degree murder and the three other officers involved were arrested and charged with felony aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Pinney’s comments also corroborated earlier reports from El Nuevo Rodeo’s from owner that Floyd and Chauvin knew each other. Maya Santamaria, who owned the building for almost two decades before selling the venue in recent months, told KSTP.com last month that Floyd and Chauvin once worked security for her.
“Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open,” Santamaria said. “They were working together at the same time, it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.”
Despite the two overlapping with their work schedules on popular music nights within the last year, Santamaria said she couldn’t say for certain whether they knew each other because there were usually a couple dozen security guards, which included off-duty officers.
Santamaria says she didn’t recognize Chauvin or Floyd in the viral video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he yells, “I can’t breathe.” The incident occurred not too far from where the two used to work.
“My friend sent me (the video) and said this is your guy who used to work for you and I said, ‘It’s not him.’ And then they did the closeup and that’s when I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s him,'” Santamaria said. “I didn’t recognize George as one of our security guys because he looked really different lying there like that.”
Santamaria still runs the radio station La Raza 95.7 FM in the same building that contains El Nuevo Rodeo. However, a power outage has knocked them off-air due to the Tuesday protests. The Latinx-owned operation is two blocks east of where protests occurred in front of the Minneapolis Police Department Third Precinct. Outrage from protestors spilled over into nearby businesses. Similar to their neighbors, Santamaria’s building is now covered in graffiti and the glass doors are shattered.
“All of the neighborhood has come out to volunteer and clean up and lend a hand,” said Santamaria.
Andrea Jenkins, vice president of Minneapolis City Council, echoed the information given by Santamaria, and she even went further and told MSNBC, “Officer Chauvin, he knew George. They were coworkers for a very long time.”
Floyd was detained on Monday because he matched the description of someone who tried to pay a convenience store with a counterfeit bill, according to authorities. Initial reports said Floyd resisted arrest, but surveillance video was released showing that when he was initially handcuffed, it didn’t appear as if he was resisting. Minutes later, Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck as he begged for his life. “Don’t kill me!” Floyd can be heard yelling in cell phone footage of the incident. Floyd was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital.
The case is still being investigated by state and federal authorities. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says he expects charges to be filed against the four cops involved. Floyd’s family is demanding murder charges.