The Minneapolis man who died this week after a police officer knelt on his neck worked at the same club as the officer, the club owner said.
Both George Floyd and Derek Chauvin, the officer who was fired after Floyd died, worked in security at the El Nuevo Rodeo club in Minneapolis, Maya Santamaria said.
She owned the club for nearly 20 years before selling it a few months ago.
“Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open,” Santamaria told KTSP. “They were working together at the same time, it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.”
It cannot be said for sure that the men knew each other, Santamaria added.
“If they would have crossed paths, it probably would not have been something they remembered,” she told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
One possible time they might have come into contact: at the end of a night when Chauvin came inside to get paid, and others were there waiting to get paid. Floyd could also have run outside when an altercation occurred there and assisted Chauvin.
“It certainly wasn’t something that made them, perhaps, recognize each other,” the former club owner said.
She recounted Chauvin, who could face criminal charges for his role in Floyd’s death, had a short temper, and would typically pull out his mace and pepper spray people even when the owner thought it wasn’t warranted.
City Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins, in contrast to Santamaria, believes the men knew each other.
“They were both bouncers at that restaurant for 17 years. So, officer Chauvin, he knew George,” she said in an interview with MSNBC. “They were co-workers for a very long time.”
According to online records, 17 complaints were made against Chauvin in his time with the Minneapolis Police Department. All were closed were no discipline except for two, which led to letters of reprimand.
Tou Thao, who stood by as Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, also had six complaints, five of which were closed with no discipline and one of which is still open.
The officers, according to the complaints, failed to file a police report, used a higher level of force than was needed in arresting someone, and treated victims of crimes rudely.