During his 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department, former officer Derek Chauvin racked up as many police-conduct complaints. Until Chauvin was caught on-camera kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until the man died, none of those complaints came to anything, despite a number of them involving allegations of unnecessary force. Meanwhile, another of the ex-officers present, Tou Thao, had six complaints in his file, and was once the subject of an excessive force lawsuit. And according to a new report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, three of the officers involved in Floyd’s death — including Chauvin — were also involved in an eerily similar arrest roughly three weeks prior, tackling and detaining a Black man as he left his apartment building.
On May 3, 2020, four officers — Chauvin, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, all of whom were implicated in Floyd’s killing, as well as Luis Realivasquez, who was not — arrived at an apartment building on Oakland Avenue. According to the Star Tribune, they were responding to a 911 call from a woman claiming she was being held against her will in Apartment 1. When Adrian Drakeford, a 27-year-old Black man who lived in Apartment 3, walked out of the building’s front door, the officers allegedly pounced, Kueng and Lane handcuffing him while he lay facedown in the dirt. According to the paper, this arrest “was part of their field training.”
The Star Tribune has published footage of the incident, which Drakeford’s brother Lee had started recording just after the officers pinned Adrian down and as neighbors gathered at the scene. In the background of the video, someone can be heard saying, “He literally walked out the door,” while another person asks the officers, “Y’all are honestly throwing men to the ground?”
Lee kept filming as the officers walked his brother to the squad car, batting down their claims that Adrian was armed with a knife — he told the Star Tribune he had exited the building with a knife sharpener in his pocket — and asking for their badge numbers. Adrian had been “calling all day” to report that his car was broken into the night before, Lee stressed. Adrian reportedly lived across the hall from the apartment police were there to investigate.
According to the Star Tribune, the officers never found the woman who called from Apartment 1, but they did take another of Adrian’s brothers, Terrance, into custody, apparently because he showed up in the middle of the confrontation and asked if the police were there “to kill more Black people.” The police report allegedly classifies this as a use of “foul language” in front of children. While the MPD ultimately determined that Adrian Drakeford was “not involved in this call” and released him, they reportedly charged Terrance with obstructing the legal process. The Minneapolis City Attorney dropped the case on May 12. The Cut has contacted the MPD for comment.
Just weeks later, on May 25, Kueng and Lane would help Chauvin hold Floyd to the pavement in an ultimately fatal display of force. Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, while Kueng, Lane, and Thao, face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
“The timeline here is troubling,” Andrew Gordon, Terrance Drakeford’s attorney and the deputy director at Minneapolis’s Legal Rights Center, told the Star Tribune. “This is not the first decision point where someone could have done something. This was maybe the last one.”
Read the full report here.