George Floyd and the former Minneapolis police officer seen in a video with his knee on Floyd’s neck before he died worked at the same nightclub, according to the venue’s former owner.
Derek Chauvin and Floyd worked security at the El Nuevo Rodeo club, down the street from Minneapolis’ Third Precinct, according to Maya Santamaria, the club’s former owner who sold the venue within the last few months.
Floyd, who Santamaria called a “great guy” known for his big smile, often worked as an extra security guard on Tuesdays when the club held popular “urban” music nights. Chauvin served as an off-duty police officer for the club for almost 17 years.
“I wouldn’t characterize them as knowing each other,” Santamaria told CNN’s Josh Campbell in an interview. “We did all work together at the club at different points of time, certainly on Tuesday nights on and off. We were all working on the same team.”
Santamaria added, “We all worked together certain nights and they would have crossed paths.”
Chauvin faces charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death, according to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Friday as fires continued to burn from violent protests overnight as demonstrators demanded justice for Floyd.
For Santamaria, seeing the video showing Floyd handcuffed and on the ground saying, “I can’t breathe,” while Chauvin holds him down with his knee on Floyd’s neck was shocking.
“I didn’t understand what I was seeing,” Santamaria said. “I kept yelling at my phone telling Chauvin to get off of him. It’s horrible. It’s absolutely beyond words. And having known Chauvin, I can’t believe he didn’t have the humanity to listen to this poor man begging for his air and his life.”
Floyd’s death has ignited protests in Minneapolis and other US cities. More than 500 Minnesota National Guard personnel have been mobilized to several locations in the Minneapolis area as protesters have looted businesses and set a police precinct on fire.