Derek Chauvin’s 19-Year Reign of Terror

With a guilty verdict, justice has only just begun

Martie Sirois
7 min readApr 22, 2021


Photo by Kyle Cleveland on Unsplash

At least twenty-two complaints of misconduct were filed against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin before he would go on to murder George Floyd in front of a Cup Foods store— and the whole world — last year. That is, according to reporting from the New York Times. According to the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin only had eighteen prior complaints filed against him with the Department’s Internal Affairs. And according to Communities Against Police Brutality, a Minnesota nonprofit that created a database of complaints against officers in the state, Chauvin appears to have received twenty-six complaints.

In all likelihood, we’ll never know how many times people were terrorized by Derek Chauvin since not every person who’s been mistreated by police files a complaint.

One of the more vocal complaints came in June 2017 when Chauvin responded to a domestic dispute at the home of Zoya Code, a black woman. Like George Floyd, Ms. Code found herself handcuffed, facedown on the ground, with Chauvin’s knee pressing into her neck:

“He just stayed on my neck,” Code said, ignoring her desperate pleas to get off. Frustrated and upset, she challenged him to press harder. “Then he did. Just to shut me up,” she said.

Prior to that moment, she’d had an altercation with her mother, and Zoya Code left the house “to cool down.” When she returned, Chauvin and his partner were there. Chauvin then told Ms. Code that she was under arrest, and he grabbed her arm (details that were confirmed by both prosecutors and Mr. Chauvin’s body camera). Not understanding why she was under arrest, Ms. Code pulled away from Chauvin. A NYT article describes the scene:

When she pulled away, [Chauvin] pulled her to the ground face first and knelt on her. The two officers then picked her up and carried her outside the house, facedown. There, prosecutors said, Mr. Chauvin knelt on the back of the handcuffed woman “even though she was offering no physical resistance at all”…

Ms. Code, in an interview, said she began pleading: “Don’t kill me.” At that point, according to the prosecutors’ account, Mr. Chauvin told his partner to restrain Ms. Code’s…



Martie Sirois

Covering the intersection of culture, politics & equality. Featured in Marker, HuffPost, PopSugar, Scary Mommy; heard on NPR, SiriusXM, LTYM, TIFO podcast, etc.