While Minneapolis and the rest of the nation struggle to comes to terms with the death of George Floyd and its implications, there’s another contingency trying just as hard to understand his killer, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
A lenghty profile in Sunday's New York Times relied on “dozens of interviews” with acquaintances over the years, which painted Chauvin as a “quiet and rigid workaholic with poor people skills and a tendency to overreact.”
Chauvin and his family members declined to speak to the Times, as did his attorney.
With only so much to go on, the story also highlighted Chauvin's appearance (in an "ill-fitting tuxedo and bowtie") at the 2018 Mrs. Minnesota America beauty pageant. Chauvin’s then-wife, Kellie, was a contestant, and sought to become the first Hmong winner of Mrs. Minnesota.
During the contest, husbands fielded a couple softball questions -- which Chauvin managed to turn into "awkward moments," the Times notes.
At one point, the husbands are asked what additional event they might add to the pageant, and why.
"Good question,” Chauvin said. “I think I’m actually adding a physical event.” He suggested rock climbing. “Teams of two – timed,” said Chauvin, who finished with a little grin.
“Well, you’re not competing, I’m talking about your wife here,” the host replied.
Chauvin also bombed a quiz segment, in which each contestant had to write down bit of trivia about her husband, and the men had to guess which one referred to them. A lot of the husbands recognized their wives’ responses, the Times reported. Chauvin mistakenly thought his wife had written that he “liked to tell stories.”
Later, the host tried another prompt.
“Whoever you are, you do upside-down hanging crunches,” she said. “You can do 100 at a time.”
Nobody answered. The host gave a little hint.
“Um, Derek Chauvin?”she said.
Chauvin stepped forward and elaborated a little more on his exercise routine, saying when he does his ab workout at Life Time Fitness, people at the club would "stop and stare."
Chauvin gives his "rock climbing" answer around the 39:00 minute mark below, and the part about knowing what your partner's best at starts around 43:30.
Chauvin's lack of charm was apparent in his work life, too. The Times says Chauvin was often paired with rookie cops because his fellow department veterans didn't want the assignment. Retired Minneapolis Police Department commander Lucy Gerold described Chauvin as "a little cocky," and "the guy not everybody liked or wanted to work with."
Another cop said Chauvin "would never connect and stand there like a small child" in group settings, and had a "lack of communication skills."
After Floyd died under Chauvin’s knee, Kellie and her family released a statement saying she was devastated by Floyd’s death, and that her utmost sympathy lay with his family and loved ones. It also said she had filed for divorce.
Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, with a trial expected in March, 2021.