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George Floyd, whose death has sparked nationwide turmoil and protests, reportedly worked at the same nightclub as the police officer accused of murdering him.
Floyd, a former bouncer at Minneapolis bar El Nuevo Rodeo, was a longtime co-worker of Officer Derek Chauvin — the policeman who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes before he died, according to a local politician.
"He knew George," Andrea Jenkins, who sits on Minneapolis’ City Council, told NBC affiliate WRAL-TV. "They were co-workers for a very long time."
Jenkins said on MSNBC that Chauvin and Floyd both worked at the bar for 17 years.
"Chauvin was our off-duty police [officer] for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open," El Nuevo Rodeo owner Maya Santamaria told KSTP-TV. "They were working together at the same time, it's just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside."
Santamaria was unable to confirm if Chauvin and Floyd directly knew each other, but stated they had likely crossed paths at work in the past and that their shifts had overlapped. Floyd had worked at the club for approximately one year in 2019, the outlet reported.
"I wouldn't characterize them as knowing each other," Santamaria told CNN. "We all worked together certain nights and they would have crossed paths."
Santamaria explained that the bar employed a couple dozen bouncers, some of whom included off-duty police officers. She alleged that Chauvin was quick to use violence on unruly patrons and was uncomfortable working Tuesday’s shift, when the club saw more black clubbers.
“I’ve seen him in action and I’ve seen him lose it and I’ve called him out on it before,” Santamaria told the Star Tribune. “I’ve told him it’s unnecessary and unjustified some of the ways that he behaves. He just loses it.”
Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder in Floyd’s death, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. He had 17 prior conduct complaints on his official record during his tenure with the Minneapolis Police Department.
Santamaria, who owns a local radio station, said video of Floyd’s death left her speechless.
"I didn't understand what I was seeing," she told local media. "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."
Santamaria didn’t reply to Oxygen.com’s request for comment on Monday.
Chauvin and the three other officers involved in Floyd's arrest have been fired, a spokesperson for the Minneapolis Police Department confirmed. The case has now been turned over to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s governor announced over the weekend.
Chauvin has been transferred to a maximum security facility, Oxygen.com previously confirmed. His legal team wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The former police officer’s wife has filed for divorce.
Waves of protests, some of which have descended into violence, have reverberated across the country following Floyd’s death.
The disturbing video clip of Floyd’s death, which has been viewed millions of times, has fanned the flames of unrest coast to coast.
In the roughly 10-minute clip, Chauvin is seen pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as the 46-year-old repeatedly gasps and exclaims he can't breathe. Chauvin even refused a fellow officer's suggestion to roll Floyd on his side and kept his knee pressed into his neck for nearly three minutes after he'd become unresponsive, the criminal complaint alleges.
When emergency responders reached the scene, Floyd didn’t have a pulse, according to a Minneapolis Fire Department incident report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Floyd was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A convenience store clerk had called the police on a supposedly intoxicated Floyd for allegedly using counterfeit bills to purchase cigarettes, according to 911 transcripts.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office revealed Monday evening that Floyd's heart stopped while being restrained by police. The office has ruled the death a homicide.
Floyd’s death follows on the heels of several other fatal shootings of other unarmed black men and women, including Ahmaud Arbery, pursued and gunned down by a white father and son in Georgia who claim to have believed he was a burglar, and Breonna Taylor, a black Kentucky EMT who was shot to death by police officers serving a no-knock warrant.
A GoFundMe for Floyd’s family has since raised more than $7 million.
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