In November 2013, Minneapolis Police arrested LaSean Braddock shortly after midnight on his way home from a double shift as a mental health officer at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Braddock, 48, said he had grown somewhat used to being arrested by police because his identity had been stolen and he was sometimes mistaken for the man who used his name. He took the papers from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with him as evidence, he said, so the stops were usually brief: he showed the documents to officers; they would examine him and let him go. But the officer at the driver’s side window that day stuffed the documents into his pocket without looking at them, Braddock said.
When he hesitated to get out of the car, the officer aggressively hit the driver’s side window with a flashlight, Braddock said. Two officers then attempted to pull him out of the car before he got out on his own.
“Then they tried to slam me to the ground, but I was around 240 pounds,” Braddock said, adding that although he still didn’t know why he was arrested, he obeyed to avoid injuring himself. “Then they jumped on my head, neck and back. I was lying flat on the floor.”
Over six years later, Braddock saw one of those officers again as he watched a heartbreaking video of George Floyd’s final moments. Derek Chauvin, Braddock said, was one of the officers who treated him harshly. A police report that night confirms that Chauvin was one of the policemen arresting them.
Floyd, who was black, died on May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee to his neck for several minutes as he cried out for help with the handcuffs and said he could no longer breathe . His death sparked months of racial justice protests in dozens of cities around the world.
Chauvin, who is charged with second degree murder in Floyd’s death, is due on Monday.
Braddock said he believed Floyd might still be alive if the complaint he filed alleging excessive force from Chauvin the day after their meeting was taken seriously and not dismissed.
“It’s a shame they didn’t do anything to Derek Chauvin,” Braddock said in a recent interview. “If they had done something about it, it might not have gone this far.”
Several people who had run-ins with Chauvin before the deadly encounter accused him in interviews with news outlets and official complaints of using excessive force.
Chauvin, who was a 19-year veteran of the department before his dismissal, has been named in at least a dozen police conduct complaints that resulted in no disciplinary action and one that led to a “letter of reprimand.”
The Minneapolis Police Department declined to comment on past complaints against Chauvin.
The Minnesota attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting Chauvin’s case, has sought to initiate several arrests involving Chauvin dating as far back as 2014, alleging they had a history of excessive force.
Jurors may hear about one such case, the arrest of Zoya Code in 2017.
‘Do not kill me’
According to court documents, Chauvin visited Code’s home on June 25, 2017, following a report on a domestic dispute. A parent accused Code, 38, of trying to suffocate him with an extension cord, but Code denied doing so. Code, who declined an interview request, told the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the criminal justice system, that the parent was swinging the cord and she grabbed it. Code said she left the house to cool off after the argument and on her return met Chauvin and another officer.
As Code passed, Chauvin grabbed one of her arms and told her she was under arrest, prosecutors said in court documents. When she pulled away, Chauvin pulled her to the ground while lying down and knelt on top of her, they said. After being handcuffed, she refused to get up, so Chauvin carried her out of the house while lying down and put her face on the sidewalk.
Code told the Marshall Project that she had started to plead, “Don’t kill me.”
According to prosecutors’ account, at that time, Chauvin told his partner to hold Code’s ankles, “even though she offered him no physical resistance.”
Code told the Marshall Project that while tying her up, she told the officer, “You learn from an animal. This man – that’s evil there.”
Code was charged with the misdemeanor of domestic assault and disorderly conduct. The charges were dismissed on March 12, 2018.
Code is listed as a potential witness for the state in the Chauvin trial. Prosecutors will juxtapose Code’s treatment with Chauvin’s actions in another case to demonstrate that Chauvin knew how to use reasonable force to restrain a person.
In this incident, Chauvin assisted a suicidal, intoxicated and mentally disturbed man. “The accused observed that other officers were fighting the man and teasing him,” prosecutors wrote in a court file. “The accused then observed other officers place the man in a lateral recovery position, in accordance with the training.”
Chauvin went to the hospital with the man, prosecutors said. He and the other officers were commended by the police department for their efforts.
‘He suffocated me on the ground’
Other people who met Chauvin said his actions were much less measured.
Julian Hernandez, a carpenter, said he was traveling to Minneapolis in February 2015, with about 20 of his colleagues to see a band at the El Nuevo Rodeo nightclub, where Chauvin worked as a security guard on leave for almost 17 years. . Hernandez said he had been drinking and went to the bar to try to buy cigarettes but they were too expensive. Hernandez said as he walked away from the bar he heard someone say, “Time to go”. He turned around and met Chauvin, who he said forced him out.
“The whole club was still going,” said Hernandez, 38. “And he picked me out of everyone and told me I had to go because they were going to close.”
He said he tried to tell Chauvin that he needed to collect his jacket from the locker room and even showed him his ticket.
“I’m like, ‘Dude, let me go get my jacket at least. It’s winter, ”Hernandez said. “And he didn’t let me do that.”
Once they got out, “things got physical,” Hernandez said.
“He tried to grab me by the neck and of course I reacted,” Hernandez said. “And then after that he choked me on the ground.”
Chauvin restrained Hernandez “by putting pressure on” his lingual artery under his chin and “pressing” it against a wall, prosecutors said. He then pulled Hernandez to the ground, put him in a prone position, handcuffed him and waited for more officers to arrive, they said.
He said he distinctly remembered Chauvin choking him. Hernandez said at the time, he stayed sober for about six years after serving a prison sentence in California in his early 20s for selling drugs.
Hernandez said he filed a formal complaint the day after the incident, which was later dismissed, and tried to sue the police department, but no lawyer would take his case. He was not trying to prosecute for financial reasons, he said. “I just wanted them to know what kind of cop they have on their team,” he said.
Hernandez has been charged with the misdemeanor offense. He pleaded guilty a few months later and, after avoiding trouble for a year, the court overturned the plea and dismissed the case, according to records. Hernandez’s case was among those prosecutors sought to present as evidence, but a judge denied the request.
“What he did to me was nothing compared to what he did to that poor black dude,” Hernandez said, referring to Floyd. “You cannot take the law into your hands.”
In a court file, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson said he acted appropriately. The file says the meeting with Hernandez involved Chauvin “closing a bar after Valentine’s Day, in the dark, early in the morning, facing a tough and aggressive arrest by himself.”
“Chauvin noted and reported that the arrested person was actively resisting,” says the file. “Under the Minneapolis Police Department’s use of force policy in effect at the time, a neck restraint could” be used against a subject who is actively resisting. “
Nelson did not return a request for comment on the allegations.
Hernandez said he believed if Chauvin’s superiors had “further investigated” the complaints about “his aggressiveness” and berated him, “he would still be a cop and George Floyd would be alive.”
Braddock, a former St. Paul resident who now lives in Chicago, said that the night he was arrested he asked Chauvin and the other officer why they arrested him but that they did not tell him. never gave an answer.
He was booked into the Hennepin County Jail for disobeying police orders and obstructing court proceedings, according to a public information report, according to which “a routine license plate check” of his vehicle showed that the owner was a felony. to guarantee.
The case was closed in January 2014. Braddock’s attorney at the time, Jordan Deckenbach, said prosecutors dismissed the case after the city attorney’s office reviewed video of the car of the team. The city attorney’s office said it no longer had any record of the reasons the case was closed.
Braddock’s formal complaint against Chauvin the day after his detention was also dismissed, he and his lawyer said.
“The fact that Mr Braddock’s complaint was dismissed without him being contacted and questioned is proof that the complaint was not taken seriously,” Deckenbach said. “If Officer Chauvin had been sanctioned for physically abusing Mr. Braddock, including kneeling on Mr. Braddock’s neck, perhaps Officer Chauvin would have taken a different approach with George Floyd, which would have made George Floyd still alive today. “