Nightclub owner reveals George Floyd worked at same club as police officer who killed him

Artists complete a mural of George Floyd outside of Cup Foods last week in Minneapolis.

The owner of a nightclub who employed George Floyd has described his death as a "horrible moment".

Mr Floyd died after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.

Video of the incident shows the unarmed Mr Floyd repeatedly telling the policeman “I can’t breathe” before losing consciousness.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Maya Santamaria, former owner of El Nuevo Rodeo nightclub, said both men worked for her at the same time, but they may not have known each other well.

“Their paths would have crossed but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily had any real interaction because the police work the exterior," she said. "They are in a patrol car.”

“The security guards would have been inside the nightclub, on the second floor perhaps, near the stage and the backstage area and dealing with the clientele inside the club.”

She said she knew both men well and was "extremely shocked" when she saw how Mr Floyd died.

She said:

Particularly when I saw the video and saw this gentleman that I had revered effectively killing another person that I also revered.

“It was a horrible moment in my life.”

She said her club was “completely burned down by looters and arsonists” in the days after the death and described Minneapolis as “effectively a war zone” over the past week.

“We need to get the outsiders out of town because really all of the violence came at the hands of people that come from out of state,” she said.

“We know that this was not our local people. This was not us that did this to us. These were people that came from third parties, from different factions and different groups in society.

A protester holds a sign during a demonstration last week at the Government Center in support of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
A protester holds a sign during a demonstration last week at the Government Center in support of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' call for the arrest of the police involved in the death of George Floyd.

“I am not going to pretend that I know everything about who they are, I think that is still something that is being investigated, but a lot of people from out of state are being arrested.

We are seeing a lot of cars rolling around without licence plates and we are seeing a lot of people with white supremacist stickers on their trucks that usually do not drive around in this neighbourhood – which is heavily Latino and African American and Native American.

Ms Santamaria described Mr Floyd as a “lovely man.”

“He was a person that always smiled a big smile and was very charismatic and very friendly and had a lot of friends,” she said.

“He had a lot of friends; he was loved in our Latino community and he was loved in his own African American community – so he had many allies.”

Street artist Nath Murdoch touches up his anti-racism mural in England today.
Street artist Nath Murdoch touches up his anti-racism mural in England today.

She said Mr Chauvin was “also quite pleasant” when he was interacting with her.

“Of course, I was the one who paid him and most people are nice to the people who pay them but he was nice and he was very responsible in his work,” she said.

She said he “had his issues” while working at the club but never showed her “any kind of disrespect whatsoever.”

“I did get some complaints from some of my patrons throughout the years of course - but to put it in context, that is not unusual for a nightclub to get complaints about security and police,” she said.

“People are not always thrilled to be bounced out after they have had too much to drink and patrons always think they are right. Sometimes that’s true and sometimes it is not true so you get a little bit of everything.”

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