Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd, also worked security at a local nightclub and was quick to use aggressive tactics including mace when working on African American nights, according to the establishment’s owner.
Maya Santamaria, former owner of El Nuevo Rodeo club in Minneapolis, Minn., told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press that Floyd and Chauvin both worked at the club together but she is unclear if the two men knew each other. She also noted that “when the club hosted events that drew a mainly black clientele,” Chauvin responded to fights by taking out his mace and spraying the crowd, a tactic she told him was unjustified ‘overkill.’”
“He would mace everyone instead of apprehending the people who were fighting,” Santamaria told the Pioneer Press. “He would call backup. The next thing you would know, there would be five or six squad cars.”
On May 25, Floyd was stopped, forced to the ground and placed in handcuffs by Chauvin, who was subsequently was recorded on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd can be heard yelling “I can’t breathe” several times on the video. Floyd was eventually rendered unconscious and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. Officials fired Officer Chauvin from the police force Tuesday, along with three other officers who were also present during the arrest and did nothing to stop the excessive use of force. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Like many police officers, Chauvin had an off-duty job working security and maintained his off-duty brutality hustle for 17 years until his arrest. The Pioneer Press notes that Floyd “started working there recently as a bouncer but only worked about a dozen events put on by ‘African American promoters.’”
Santamaria, who recently sold the venue, said that if Chauvin had recognized Floyd, “he might have given him a little more mercy.”
She did add that Chauvin appeared to work well during Latino events but would be overly aggressive during “African American” nights.
“I told him I thought this is unnecessary to be pepper-sprayed. The knee-jerk reaction of being afraid, it seemed like overkill,” Santamaria said. “It was a concern and I did voice my opinion, but police officers have a way of justifying what they do.”
She added that she was shocked to see the video of Chauvin with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck.
“I thought he would have more of a conscience,” she told the Pioneer Press. “Even if he is a bit of racist, he’s a human being… At what point does your humanity overpower your racial bias?”
Apparently, never, Ms. Santamaria.