A former club owner in south Minneapolis says the now-fired police officer and the black man who died in his custody this week both worked security for her club up to the end of last year.
George Floyd and now-former Officer Derek Chauvin both worked security at the El Nuevo Rodeo club on Lake Street, according to Maya Santamaria. Santamaria owned the building for nearly two decades, but sold the venue within the last few months.
'Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open,' Santamaria said. 'They were working together at the same time, it's just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.'
5 INVESTIGATES has reached out to Chauvin's attorney and the Minneapolis Police Department, but they could not be reached for comment at the time this story was published.
Although the two overlapped working security on popular music nights within the last year, Santamaria can not say for certain they knew each other because there were often a couple dozen security guards, including off-duty officers.
Santamaria says she did not recognize either one of her security guards in the video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck not far from where they used to work.
'My friend sent me (the video) and said this is your guy who used to work for you and I said, 'It's not him.' And then they did the closeup and that's when I said, 'Oh my God, that's him,'' Santamaria said. 'I didn't recognize George as one of our security guys because he looked really different lying there like that.'
Santamaria still operates La Raza 95.7 FM radio station in the same building that houses El Nuevo Rodeo, but a power outage has knocked them off-air as a result of Tuesday's protests. The Latino owned business is two blocks east of where protests erupted in front of the Minneapolis Police Department Third Precinct and spilled into nearby businesses. Like their neighbors, the building's glass doors are shattered and now covered in graffiti.
'All of the neighborhood has come out to volunteer and clean up and lend a hand,' Santamaria said.
Santamaria says they are still updating the Latino community on their Facebook page until they can get power back.