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Two Former Officers Involved in Floyd’s Death Are Not In-Laws


Quick Take

Contrary to social media posts, Kellie Chauvin, the estranged wife of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, is not the sister of Tou Thao, another former officer involved in the events that led to Floyd’s death, according to Kellie Chauvin’s lawyer.

Full Story

A bogus claim that two of the police officers involved in the death of George Floyd are related by marriage has been circulating online. It is just one of many falsehoods that have sprung up in the wake of the death and the protests that followed.

One popular version of the claim, which contributes to a baseless conspiracy theory that the incident was staged, says: “Kellie Chauvin is the Wife of Derek Chauvin[.] Tou Thao is Kellie Chauvin’s Brother.”

That’s false. Here are the facts:

Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao were officers in the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25. Both were involved in the events that led to the death of George Floyd in police custody that day. Chauvin was shown in a video of the incident with his knee on Floyd’s neck as Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” The video showed Thao looking on. Chauvin, Thao and two other officers who were present were fired the next day. On May 29, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Shortly after that, Chauvin’s wife, Kellie Chauvin, filed for divorce.

Her lawyer, Amanda Mason-Sekula, issued a statement on Facebook the night of Derek Chauvin’s arrest, saying:

“This evening, I spoke with Kellie Chauvin and her family. She is devastated by Mr. Floyd’s death and her utmost sympathy lies with his family, with his loved ones and with everyone who is grieving this tragedy. She has filed for dissolution of her marriage to Derek Chauvin.

“While Ms. Chauvin has no children from her current marriage, she respectfully requests that her children, her elder parents, and her extended family be given safety and privacy during this difficult time.”

Two days later, Mason-Sekula addressed the falsehood linking Kellie Chauvin to Thao, saying in another Facebook post:

“Tou Thao is NOT Ms. Chauvin’s brother.”

The posts claiming otherwise don’t offer any evidence that the two are related.

In some cases, the claim is made on its own, while in others it has been wrapped up with other rumors suggesting further connections among those involved. One such rumor says that Floyd and Chauvin “knew each other” and includes a screenshot of a Gateway Pundit story with the headline: “SHOCKING REVELATION: George Floyd and Officer Derek Chauvin Worked Security at the Same Minneapolis Club Up to End of Last Year.”

Chauvin and Floyd reportedly worked at the El Nuevo Rodeo club in Minneapolis. But the former owner of the club has said that she didn’t think they knew each other and explained that Chauvin worked there for more than a decade, while Floyd had only recently begun working there.

So, while both men worked at the same club, there’s no proof that Floyd and Chauvin knew each other.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Minneapolis Police Department. May 25, 2020 officer-involved death. Accessed 1 Jun 2020.

In re the marriage of Kellie May Chauvin and Derek Michael Chauvin. Register of actions. Accessed 2 Jun 2020.

Sekula Law Offices. STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF KELLIE CHAUVIN AND HER FAMILY. Facebook. 29 May 2020.

Sekula Law Offices. “Tou Thao is NOT Ms. Chauvin’s brother.” Facebook. 31 May 2020.

Condon, Bernard. Associated Press. “Charged Minn. cop used ‘overkill’ tactics as nightclub guard.” 29 May 2020.