There were only a couple reasons most people would be aware of Derek Chauvin before he killed George Floyd.
Perhaps, during his 19 years on the force with Minneapolis Police Department, he'd arrested someone you knew. Or killed them.
Or maybe he sold you your house. Or was a neighbor of yours, in... [checks notes] Oakdale, or.... [checks map, checks multiple state laws] Windermere, Florida.
Before this week, though, the biggest spotlight to shine on Derek Chauvin in recent years came thanks to his wife, Kellie, subject of a feel-good profile in the Pioneer Press in 2018 about her quest to become the first Hmong winner of Mrs. Minnesota.
Born in Laos, Kellie's family had sought refuge in Eau Claire, Wisconsin when she was a girl, and she'd grown up bullied for her looks. She married once, as a teenager, in an arranged relationship planned by her parents. She divorced that husband after two children and a bad decade, and later became a radiologist at Hennepin County Medical Center.
It was at the hospital that she met and was asked out by a Minneapolis Police Department officer named Derek. In 2010, they got married.
As Kellie Chauvin told the Pioneer Press:
“Under all that uniform, he’s just a softie. He’s such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me. After my divorce, I had a list of must-haves if I were ever to be in a relationship, and he fit all of them.”
Chauvin did not win Mrs. Minnesota in 2018, but does come off as a winning personality, the type to take in a woman fleeing an abuser, plow a neighbor's driveway, or help a newly relocated immigrant find a job. Whatever you've heard about Derek Chauvin, it's easy to like Kellie. It just got easier.
Kellie Chauvin,— esme murphy (@esmemurphy) May 30, 2020
Through her attorney wife of former Officer Derek Chauvin the former Minneapolis Police Officer charged with murdering #GeorgeFloyd released a statement saying she is devastated by Floyd’s death, sends condolences to his family and is divorcing her husband @wcco pic.twitter.com/A5n7bYgdbK
Derek Chauvin is currently in Ramsey County Jail, per the Star Tribune, with bail set at $500,000. As of Friday afternoon he's facing one count of third-degree murder (punishable by up to 25 years in prison) and one count of manslaughter (punishable by up to 10 years).
Back in 2018, Kellie thought back on racist bullying she'd experienced growing up, and said: "I just knew that for myself, I was better than what people made me out to be. I know it took me a long time to realize that, but it’s never too late.”
It really never is.