A Minneapolis Police veteran of 19 years, he acted more like a ruthless Wild West sheriff than a modern day lawman.
He once pulled a gun on some teenagers who shot a toy dart out of their car window.
He was a bully who belittled a breast feeding new mother.
And, in chilling echoes of what was to come, he held his knee on a black woman suspect as she begged: ‘Don’t kill me.’
Chauvin, 45, worked in one of the city’s busiest divisions, the Third Precinct, and on its toughest shift.
His desire to work the 4pm to 2am beat gained him admiration from some colleagues but saw him rack up at least 22 complaints, four times the norm.
He earned two medals of valour, but other officers said just being around him made them feel uncomfortable.
A Minneapolis Police veteran of 19 years, he acted more like a ruthless Wild West sheriff than a modern day lawman
Chauvin, 45, was accused of killing Floyd by pinning his knee on the 46-year-old black man’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as he lay face-down in handcuffs after being detained for using an alleged counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes
Chauvin was married to Kellie Xiong, 46, a former radiologist and beauty queen who won the Mrs Minnesota title in 2018
They recalled how he would leave work in uniform with his trousers pulled up higher than most people wore them. His boots were always polished, as if he expected to be inspected by the chief any minute.
He didn’t fit in with the other cops, rarely socialising and not drinking. One former colleague told the New York Times: ‘In a group setting he would never connect and stood there like a small child.’
Chauvin grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of West St Paul. His parents divorced when he was seven and his father asked for a paternity test on his sister: it turned out he was not the father.
He moved in with his accountant dad and attended four different elementary schools in five years.
After working as a US military cop in Germany he joined the Minneapolis Police Force in 2000 aged 24. On nights off he worked as a security guard at the city’s El Nuevo Rodeo nightclub.
Maya Santamaria, the club’s former owner, said that Chauvin was ‘nice but he would overreact and lash out quickly’, especially on nights popular with black and latinos. Also working there, although it seems they did not know each other, was George Floyd.
Chauvin’s bad attitude was on display for those unfortunate enough to have come across him years before. Zoya Code, who is black, claims that in 2017 Chauvin put his knee on her even though she was handcuffed. A terrified Miss Code said that she pleaded: ‘Don’t kill me.’ He just stayed on my neck,’ she added and when, frustrated and upset, she challenged him to press harder, he did. ‘Just to shut me up,’ she said.
Bodycam footage from two cops accused in the murder of George Floyd shows a rookie officer terrifying Floyd by pointing a handgun at his head and another callously picking a pebble from the squad car tire just inches from the dying man and seconds before he draws his last breath on May 25 in Minneapolis
She told Chauvin’s fellow officers: ‘You’re learning from an animal. That man – that’s evilness right there.’ In 2013 he pulled his gun on four teenagers who shot a Nerf gun dart out of their car window.
Kristofer Bergh, then 17, said that after an hour during which the teenager who fired the dart was put in the police car, Chauvin let them all off with the warning: ‘Most of you will be 18 by the end of the year. That means you’ll be old enough for ‘big boy jail’.’
Julian Hernandez claimed that Chauvin used excessive force when he arrested him at the El Nuevo Rodeo club in 2015.
He said: ‘He tried to grab me from my neck, and, of course, I reacted. And then, after that, he choked me out on the ground.’
Chauvin was formally disciplined for pulling a young mother out of her car and ridiculing her when he saw wet patches on her chest from breastfeeding.
According to Melissa Borton, Chauvin, or his colleague, told her: ‘You probably have postpartum depression, and you need help.’
Chauvin was married to Kellie Xiong, 46, a former radiologist and beauty queen who won the Mrs Minnesota title in 2018. She once described her husband in a local newspaper interview as ‘a softie’. ‘He’s such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me’, she said.
Her view has now changed. She filed for divorce two days after Chauvin killed Mr Floyd.