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On a ‘Scroll That Has 470+ Names of People Killed by MN Police,’ Was Derek Chauvin Involved in Five?

Claim

"The day before Derek Chauvin goes on trial in Minneapolis for the murder of George Floyd a thousand march from the Government Center and down Hennepin Ave with a scroll that has 470+ names of people killed by MN police. Organizers point out Chauvin was involved in 5 of the names."

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Reporting

On March 7 2021, a tweet about the upcoming trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd appeared and started to quickly spread:

The tweet said:

The day before Derek Chauvin goes on trial in Minneapolis [on March 8 2021] for the murder of George Floyd a thousand march from the Government Center and down Hennepin Ave with a scroll that has 470+ names of people killed by MN police. Organizers point out Chauvin was involved in 5 of the names.

Two images of individuals carrying a long piece of paper were also attached to the tweet, but there was no link to any contextual information about the claim.

Who are George Floyd and Derek Chauvin?

George Floyd was a 46-year-old civilian man; Floyd was killed during an encounter with Derek Chauvin, who was working at the time as a Minneapolis police officer:

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. During the arrest Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, knelt on Floyd’s neck for about nine and a half minutes after he was handcuffed and lying face down. Two police officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, assisted Chauvin in restraining Floyd, while another officer, Tou Thao, prevented bystanders from interfering with the arrest and intervening as events unfolded.

Two separate autopsies found Floyd’s cause of death was homicide, and global protests subsequently erupted against police brutality, racism, and lack of accountability.

Who Are the ‘Organizers,’ and Did Police Kill More than 470 Civilians in Minneapolis?

In the context of the tweet, “organizers” would likely be the individuals who arranged the march and produced the scroll of 470 names of civilians killed during encounters with police in Minneapolis.

That specific figure of 470 deaths at the hands of Minneapolis police existed outside the tweet; The Week reported on March 8 2021:

Hundreds of people marched in Minneapolis on [March 7 2021] demanding justice for people killed by police as the city braced for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis last May [2020]. Jury selection starts Monday [March 8 2021]. Protesters carried a white coffin with dozens of fresh roses while the crowd sang songs by Bob Marley, Prince, and Sam Cooke. At one point, the crowd stopped for a moment of silence while attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong read a list of 470 people killed by law enforcement officers in Minnesota. A video went viral last year [2020] showing Chauvin pressing his knee onto Floyd’s neck while other officers restrain him, fueling protests that spread across the nation.

A blog post on Daily Kos dated March 8 2021 provided additional information on the march, its organizers, and the scope of the claim Minneapolis police killed more than 470 people. The post’s author cited the tweet as a partial source:

Protesters advocating for justice in the case have their eye narrowly targeted on just that—making sure Chauvin is held accountable for the devastation he’s accused of causing. In that effort, demonstrators also sought to bring attention to the more than 470 other people killed by Minnesota police since 1984. They marched on Sunday [March 7 2021] from the city’s government center to Hennepin Avenue with an enlarged scroll of each victim’s name, Minneapolis photojournalist Chad Davis said in a tweet. “Organizers point out Chauvin was involved in 5 of the names,” he added.

The nonprofit Communities United Against Police Brutality, which activist Michelle Gross founded, created the list, according to The Star Tribune. “The city had four chances to stop Chauvin before he put his knee on George Floyd’s neck, and they did nothing,” Gross told protesters on Sunday [March 7 2021]. “These are people whose families are left to grieve. These are people who will never complete their life’s mission because their lives were stolen from them prematurely.” When she read a few names from the list she asked the crowd: “It’s sobering, isn’t it?” In Chauvin’s 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department, he was the subject of at least 17 misconduct complaints but was only disciplined in one, The Star Tribune reported.

That excerpt involved separate sources (the tweet and a Minneapolis newspaper, the Star Tribune), and like the tweet, it was a little difficult to keep track of the interspersed quotes and hard figures. According to the quoted portion above:

  • On Sunday March 7 2021, protesters marched one day before jury selection for Chauvin’s trial was slated to begin on March 8 2021;
  • According to protesters and their scroll, Minneapolis police killed 470 individuals between 1984 and 2021;
  • Thirty five years passed between 1984 and 2021, averaging 13.4 deaths each year (or a bit more than one per month);
  • Communities United Against Police Brutality organized the protest, and Michelle Gross founded that group;
  • Gross addressed the crowd on March 7 2021, and Communities United Against Police Brutality compiled the list of more than 470 deaths due to police in Minneapolis;
  • In the course of her remarks, Gross said: “The city [of Minneapolis] had four chances to stop Chauvin before he put his knee on George Floyd’s neck, and they did nothing … These are people whose families are left to grieve. These are people who will never complete their life’s mission because their lives were stolen from them prematurely … It’s sobering, isn’t it?”
  • Separately, the author of the Daily Kos piece asserted that Chauvin was on the force for 19 years before Floyd’s death and his departure, and in that span, Chauvin was “the subject of at least 17 misconduct complaints”;
  • In the 17 alleged incidents of police misconduct, Chauvin was disciplined only once.

Gross stated that the City of Minneapolis had “four chances” to stop Chauvin before Floyd was killed, and that instead they did nothing. Gross and the group counted 470 deaths since 1984 due to policing in Minneapolis,” but they did not seem to explicitly say Chauvin killed four people before George Floyd.

Context for the Claims Outside the Tweet

Daily Kos linked to a March 8 2021 Star Tribune article (“Hundreds march through downtown Minneapolis on eve of Derek Chauvin’s trial”) as its source for Gross’ quotes:

Throughout the two-hour march on Sunday [March 7 2021], six volunteers, some of whom were friends with Floyd, carried a white casket covered with dozens of fresh roses. A large, peaceful crowd followed behind, marching to songs by Bob Marley, Prince and Sam Cooke on the balmy spring afternoon.

At 8th Street and Hennepin, the crowd sat down in the street for a moment of silence while attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong read from a list of every person killed by law enforcement in Minnesota since 1984.

“It’s sobering, isn’t it?” she asked the crowd after reading a fraction of the list, which includes more than 470 names and was compiled by the nonprofit Communities United Against Police Brutality, founded by Michelle Gross.

The city had four chances to stop Chauvin before he put his knee on George Floyd’s neck, and they did nothing,” Gross told the crowd. “These are people whose families are left to grieve. These are people who will never complete their life’s mission because their lives were stolen from them prematurely.”

In the span of his 19-year career with the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin was involved in two other deadly encounters with civilians and two nonfatal police shootings. Seventeen misconduct complaints were filed against him since 2001, but he was only disciplined once.

” … in two other deadly encounters with civilians and two nonfatal police shootings” was a link that led to an August 8 2020 Star Tribune article titled “Even to friends, former officer Derek Chauvin was an enigma.” It reported in part:

Chauvin’s work record details commendations for disarming gang members and intervening during domestic-abuse calls. Before pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck on May 25, Chauvin was also involved in two other deadly encounters with civilians and two nonfatal police shootings. Yet the 19-year veteran was disciplined just once out of 17 misconduct complaints logged since 2001.

[…]

Chauvin’s one disciplinary action came in 2007 from a Minneapolis woman he had stopped on her way home from a grocery run. The woman alleged that Chauvin had pulled her over for going 10 mph over the speed limit, frisked her and put her in his squad car. Chauvin got a letter of reprimand for his handling of the stop and for not turning on his recording equipment.

A year later [in 2008], Chauvin shot Ira Latrell Toles in the abdomen after responding to a 911 domestic-abuse call. According to an internal review, Chauvin later told investigators that he had tried to hit Toles in the head with the butt of his handgun because Toles failed to comply with commands to get on the ground. Chauvin said he shot Toles when he thought Toles reached for his gun. Toles’ ex-girlfriend reported that Chauvin fired his gun “about two seconds” after he entered the bathroom.

“If he was reprimanded for shooting me, then maybe more lives could have been saved,” Toles said in a [2020] interview.

That in-depth, local reporting clarified:

  • Chauvin was a member of the force in Minneapolis from 2001 to 2020;
  • Chauvin was disciplined once in 2007 for his actions during a traffic stop;
  • In 2008, Chauvin discharged his weapon and shot Ira Latrell Toles. Chauvin maintained Toles “reached for his gun,” but a witness said Chauvin fired the shot “about two seconds” after he entered the room;
  • Chauvin was “involved … in two nonfatal police shootings” between 2001 and 2020;
  • Chauvin was “also involved in two other deadly encounters with civilians” before Floyd was killed;
  • Details about the “two other deadly encounters” was not included in the article, and;
  • Presumably, the four incidents before Floyd’s death (two “deadly encounters with civilians” and “two nonfatal police shootings”) were likely the “four chances” Gross described when she addressed protesters on March 7 2021.

A May 26 2020 article by the same news organization reported that “[police department] records and news accounts show that [Chauvin] has been involved in several police-involved shootings over his career,” describing one fatality:

In 2006, Chauvin and five others responded to a stabbing. After Wayne Reyes, 42, allegedly pulled a shotgun on the officers, one of the officers shot and killed Reyes, according to a report titled “Stolen Lives” from Communities United Against Police Brutality, a police watchdog nonprofit based in Minneapolis.

Summary

A viral March 7 2021 tweet reported that protesters in Minneapolis carried a “scroll that has 470+ names of people killed by MN police,” and march organizers “point[ed] out Chauvin was involved in 5 of the names.” It appeared that referenced a statement by organizer Michlle Gross that Minneapolis had “four chances to stop” Chauvin before Floyd’s death. In turn, it appeared that statement was in reference to the Star Tribune‘s August 2020 profile of Chauvin’s time in service, during which he was involved with “two other deadly encounters with civilians and two nonfatal police shootings.” However, it remains possible the tweet was predicated on other information to which we were not privy, and so we have rated the claim Unknown.

We have emailed the organization seeking further clarification.