As Minneapolis burns amid riots and protests over the police killing of George Floyd, the world is learning more about police officer Derek Chauvin, who held Floyd down with his knee, leading to 46-year-old’s death.
Chauvin joined the Minneapolis police force in 2001 and has been fired in the wake of Floyd’s death. Chauvin had 18 complaints filed against him in that time — one a year on average.
Minneapolis resident and IT professional Ira Latrell Toles claims Chauvin tried to kill him in 2008. Chauvin barged into Toles’ home unannounced, responding to a domestic-violence call, and then shot Toles at close range, leaving him with a permanent hole in his stomach, according to Toles.
After watching news reports about Floyd’s death, Toles, 33, realized the man responsible for Floyd’s death looked familiar.
“The officer that killed that guy might be the one that shot me,” Toles texted his sister, according to messages shared with The Daily Beast. “They said his last name and I think it was him.”
“It’s him,” his sister instantly replied.
Chauvin had barged into Toles’ home and beat him up in the bathroom before shooting him in the stomach 12 years earlier while responding to a domestic violence call, The Daily Beast reported.
On May 26, Chauvin was one of four officers fired for his role in Floyd’s death. A video shot by a witness and shared on social media shows Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even as the 46-year-old begs, “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man…I’m about to die.”
Floyd had no pulse when he was finally put into an ambulance. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital soon after in what police described as a “medical incident.”
Toles said he thinks Floyd’s death could have been prevented if Chauvin had been properly punished for his own violent arrest in May 2008. Toles pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge while Chauvin continued on as a police officer without punishment.
Although Chauvin and the other officers involved were put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into Toles’ shooting, they were later placed back in the field.
“If he was reprimanded when he shot me, George Floyd would still be alive,” the IT professional said.
According to the incident report, police officers responded to a domestic violence call at an apartment complex just before 2 a.m on May 24, 2008. The 911 operator could hear a woman yelling for somebody to stop hitting her, local media reported at the time.
Toles, then 21, admits that the mother of his child called the police on him that night. Several officers arrived without announcing themselves.
“When I saw that he breached the front door, I ran in the bathroom,” Toles told The Daily Beast. “Then (Chauvin) starts kicking in that door. I was in the bathroom with a cigarette and no lighter.”
Chauvin broke into the bathroom and began hitting him without warning. Toles said he returned blows because “my natural reaction to someone hitting me is to stop them from hitting me.”
“All I could do is assume it was the police because they didn’t announce themselves or ever give me a command,” Toles said. “I didn’t know what to think when he started hitting me. I swear he was hitting me with the gun.”
Then Chauvin shot and wounded Toles after Toles allegedly reached for an officer’s gun, according to news reports.
Toles was in the hospital for about three days. Chauvin had shot him at such close range that the bullet went through his groin and came out his left butt cheek before hitting the bathroom wall. The wound, he said, left a hole that “never really closed” and is so large he can still stick a finger inside.
Upon release from the hospital, Toles was taken directly to court and charged with two felony counts of obstructing legal process or arrest and a misdemeanor count of domestic assault.
“I would assume my reaction would be to try to stop him from hitting me. If his first reaction was hitting me in the face that means I can’t see and I’m too disoriented to first locate his gun and then try to take it from him and for what?” Toles said. “To turn a misdemeanor disorderly situation into a felony situation that could have resulted in me dying? He tried to kill me in that bathroom.”
Toles said he only spent a day or two in jail. Three months later, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge as part of a deal.
“I knew (Chauvin) would do something again,” Toles said. “I wish we had smartphones back then.”
The Floyd and Toles incidents aren’t the only ones raising questions about police abuse on Chauvin’s record, CNN reported. Eighteen complaints have been filed against Chauvin, but all he ever received was two verbal reprimands, according to Communities United Against Police Brutality.
Among the other cases is the 2006 fatal shooting of 42-year-old Wayne Reyes, who allegedly stabbed two people before reportedly turning a gun on police. Chauvin was among six officers to respond to the stabbing. In 2005, Chauvin and another officer were chasing a car that hit and killed three people, according to Communities United Against Police Brutality.
And in 2011, Chauvin was one of five officers placed on a standard three-day leave after the non-fatal shooting of a Native American man, The Daily Beast reported.
There were five more complaints against Chauvin which were closed without discipline, according to the city’s Civilian Review Authority, which lists complaints prior to September 2012.
A prisoner at a Minnesota correctional facility sued Chauvin and seven other officers for “alleged violations of his federal constitutional rights” in 2006. The case was dismissed and the details were not clear.
Officer Tou Thao, one of the four responding officers fired in Floyd’s death, has had six complaints filed against him with internal affairs. One is still open, according to the public summary released. The other five complaints were closed without discipline, CNN reported.
“It has become a truism among police chiefs that 10 percent of their officers
cause 90 percent of the problems,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Thao was involved in a 2017 excessive force lawsuit that was settled by the city of Minneapolis, according to a settlement obtained by CNN and an attorney for the plaintiff in the case.
Lamar Ferguson claimed in the lawsuit that Thao and another officer subjected him to “cruel and unusual” punishment when they arrested him in October 2014.
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According to the lawsuit, the officers used “unreasonable force,” including “punches, kicks and knees to the face and body while Ferguson was defenseless and handcuffed.” As a result, Ferguson suffered broken teeth, bruising and trauma, court papers revealed.
The city wound up paying Ferguson and his attorney $25,000 to settle the lawsuit on December 11, 2017.
Both the city and the officers denied liability in the settlement, according to a 2017 statement from the city of Minneapolis.
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