Late last year, as a team of Minnesota state prosecutors was preparing for the trial that would ultimately convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd, they received a series of videos depicting Chauvin’s handling of another case three years earlier that by their own description shocked them.
The videos, from Sept. 4, 2017, allegedly showed Chauvin striking a Black teenager in the head so hard that the boy needed stitches, then allegedly holding the boy down with his knee for nearly 17 minutes, and allegedly ignoring complaints from the boy that he couldn’t breathe.
“Those videos show a far more violent and forceful treatment of this child than Chauvin describes in his report [of the incident],” Matthew Frank, one of the state prosecutors, wrote in a court filing at the time.
According to Frank’s account of the incident, Chauvin and another Minneapolis police officer were dispatched to a home where a woman claimed she had been attacked by her 14-year-old son and young daughter.
After officers entered the home and spoke to the woman, they ordered the son to lie on the ground, but he refused. Within seconds, Chauvin hit the teenager with his flashlight, grabbed the teenager’s throat, hit him again with the flashlight, and then “applied a neck restraint, causing the child to lose consciousness and go to the ground,” according to Frank’s account of the videos, detailed in a filing seeking permission to raise the incident during trial.
“Chauvin and (the other officer) placed (the teenager) in the prone position and handcuffed him behind his back while the teenager’s mother pleaded with them not to kill her son and told her son to stop resisting,” Frank wrote, noting that at one point the teenager’s ear began bleeding. “About a minute after going to the ground, the child began repeatedly telling the officers that he could not breathe, and his mother told Chauvin to take his knee off her son.”
After 8 minutes of that, Chauvin put his knee on the teen’s upper back and left it there for another 9 minutes or so.