Derek Chauvin’s personal history: About his ex-wife, stepchildren, past discipline and more

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Danielle Wallace
·5 min read
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Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, was married with two stepchildren before video of the fatal arrest went viral.

His ex-wife, Kellie May Xiong Chauvin, who was crowned Mrs. Minnesota in 2019, legally separated from Chauvin on May 28, 2020 – just three days after a viral bystander video showed her husband in police uniform pressing his knee into the back and neck of a handcuffed Floyd.

Kellie Chauvin was "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," according to a statement shared by her attorneys on May 29, 2020. "She has filed for dissolution of her marriage to Derek Chauvin."

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"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," the statement shared by Sekula Law Offices, PLLC, said at the time.

Kellie Chauvin filed for divorce on May 31, 2020. But Washington County District Judge Juanita Freeman rejected the first agreement in October 2020, writing that judges can deny an uncontested agreement between a couple if "the transfer features ‘badges of fraud’."

Though details of the first divorce agreement were heavily redacted, Freeman wrote that Kellie Chauvin would have received all equity in the couple’s two homes, all the money in their bank and investment accounts and all the money from Derek Chauvin’s pension and retirement accounts. The judge’s actions raised speculation that the Chauvin’s were trying to protect their assets.

The divorce was finalized by the Minnesota judge in February 2021.

A second proposed settlement order to be filed publicly in January would have awarded Kellie Chauvin the net profits from the couple’s Oakdale home, which lost its value due to vandalism, and the title to their Florida home, which was damaged by protesters. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported at the time that the couple also planned to split debts and money in their bank accounts. Kellie Chauvin would have received roughly $703,718 in the settlement and Derek Chauvin would have received $420,768.

Kellie Chauvin also requested to drop her married surname in the divorce.

Derek Chauvin has no known biological children. But Kellie Chauvin did have two children from a previous marriage. It's unclear what Derek Chauvin's relationship was like with his stepchildren.

Kellie Chauvin said she entered into her first marriage shortly before turning 18 and that was arranged by her traditional Hmong parents. She divorced a decade later after, accusing her first husband of domestic abuse.

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According to a 2018 profile published by Twin Cities Press, Kellie Chauvin was born in Laos in 1974 and fled with her family three years later to Thailand where she lived in a refugee camp. Another three years later, her family moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

She told the newspaper she experienced bullying and struggled to learn English. As a first-time divorcee in her late 20s, Kellie Chauvin moved to Minnesota, where she earned her associate’s degree in radiology and took an internship in the emergency room of Hennepin County Medical Center. That’s where she met her second husband, Derek Chauvin, when he brought someone in for a health check before an arrest, the newspaper reported.

George Floyd was pronounced dead in the same hospital on May 25, 2020.

"Under all that uniform, he’s just a softie," Kellie Chauvin said of her husband in 2018. "He’s such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me. After my divorce, I had a list of must-haves if I were ever to be in a relationship, and he fit all of them."

Kellie Chauvin resigned from the hospital and enrolled at Kaplan University in the residential real estate program. She later began working as a realtor with Re/Max Results.

She was crowned Mrs. Minnesota in 2019 and Derek Chauvin participated on stage with his wife in the pageant.

Derek Chauvin, 44, spent 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and was awarded multiple medals for bravery; he also had at least 17 civilian complaints filed against him. Prior to that, he served as a military police officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.

He joined the MPD in 2001 and was reprimanded in 2007 for an incident in which he was accused of pulling a woman out of her car after he caught her driving 10 mph over the speed limit. But he was also singled out for bravery. Files show the ex-cop won two medals of valor, one in 2006 for being part of a group of officers who opened fire on a stabbing suspect who pointed a shotgun at them, and another in 2008 for a domestic violence incident in which Chauvin broke down a bathroom door and shot a suspect in the stomach.

Other commendations Chauvin earned were for tackling a fleeing armed suspect – and for single-handedly taking down a group of gang members while working as an off-duty security guard at El Nuevo Rodeo nightclub.

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Former club owner Maya Santamaria said both Chauvin and Floyd had worked there on various occasions but wasn’t sure if they’d ever met on the job. She also accused Chauvin of being unnecessarily aggressive around Black customers and responding to fights at the venue with pepper spray or by calling in police backup, which she called "overkill."

Separately, however, she told the Washington Post Chauvin was a "nice guy" and "always mellow," and she considered him a good friend.

Fox News' Michael Ruiz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.