George Floyd and the police officer involved with his death, Derek Chauvin, both worked security at the same Minneapolis club, according to the club owner.
"Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open," Maya Santamaria, the former owner of El Nuevo Rodeo club in Minneapolis, which was sold months prior to the incident, told KSTP in an interview Thursday.
Floyd worked at the club for about a year, but Santamaria said he was one of 20 or 30 employees hired for security on the busiest nights in addition to off-duty police, and is not sure if the pair ever actually spoke to one another.
"They were working together at the same time, it's just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside," Santamaria said.
The club owner said she recognized Chauvin after she saw the video of the officer kneeling on the neck of Floyd, an encounter that led to Floyd's death.
"My friend sent me [the video] and said, 'this is [Chauvin], the guy who used to work for you,' and I said, 'It's not him.' And then they did the close-up and that's when I said, 'Oh my God, that's him," Santamaria told KSTP.
"[Chauvin] sometimes had a real short fuse and he seemed afraid. When there was an altercation he always resorted to pulling out his mace pepper spray everybody right away even though I felt it was unwarranted," the club owner said.
In the KSTP interview, Santamaria said she could not immediately identify Floyd, as he was faced down on the ground and pinned by Chauvin.
"I didn't recognize George as one of our security guards because he looked really different lying there like that. It wasn't until I saw the picture come up that it snapped and one of my employees said, "look Maya, he worked for us,'" the club owner said.
"I thought to myself what if he could have just said, 'hey man, you and I worked together at Maya's place, remember me?'" Santamaria reported to KSTP.
Floyd died Monday after the now-fired police officer Chauvin pinned him down with a knee on his neck, even as Floyd can be heard saying that he could not breathe. Floyd did not have a pulse by the time he was placed in an ambulance and was later pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center. The event has led to rioting in several cities across the United States.
Newsweek reached out to Santamaria for further comments, but did not hear back in time for publication.