The claim: The former Minneapolis police officer involved in a black man's death stood on stage at a Trump rally in October
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer involved in the death of George Floyd, has been misidentified online as an officer who attended a Minneapolis rally for President Donald Trump.
“Is that Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis cop who choked #GeorgeFloyd to death on video in the front row of a Trump MAGA rally?,” a widely circulated tweet reads. “Is that the man who killed #GeorgeFloyd laughing three feet from @realDonaldTrump?”
“Wait — did the cop who is at the center of the Floyd death attend a Trump rally or not? And if not, WHO is this Minneapolis cop who was on stage with Trump in October?,” a Facebook page asked.
The photos, which show several Minneapolis area police officers standing next to the president in “Cops for Trump” T-shirts, was taken at an October rally where dozens of Minneapolis Police Federation members stood on stage with the president.
The man in question is Mike Gallagher, president of the police union in Bloomington, Minnesota, not Chauvin.
Other posts have misidentified Chauvin in another setting. Photos posted to Facebook show a man wearing a "Make Whites Great Again" hat and claim that man is Chauvin. Those pictures are actually of the provocateur Jonathan Lee Riches.
Who is Derek Chauvin?
Chauvin has been identified as the police officer who kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis resident, on Monday. Afterward, Floyd was taken by emergency responders to a hospital, where he later died.
Chauvin, who reportedly has a history of prior complaints about police conduct, was fired Tuesday along with three other officers involved in the incident.
Floyd’s death, which has been among a series of recent high-profile killings of black people, has pushed issues of racism and police brutality back into the national spotlight.
Trump’s October Minneapolis rally
Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis police union, spoke at the rally and introduced Trump. He then stood on stage alongside other police union members as the president delivered his remarks.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Kroll said the man misidentified as Chauvin in the viral photo is his counterpart, Gallagher.
“None of the officers in the incident were near the Trump rally,” Kroll said, referring to the false claim about the rally photos.
"It could be, but I’ll tell you, I certainly don’t think it is,” Sgt. John Elder, a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department, told Snopes. “My official comment is: Whoever it is, is off duty.”
“I love law enforcement, I love the cops, I love the police!” Trump exclaimed at the outset of his speech.
Jonathan Lee Riches, professional troll
Riches confirmed to the Associated Press that he is the man in the viral photo misidentifying him as Chauvin.
He has a history of filing provocative litigation, suing hundreds of celebrities, politicians and other high-profile companies and organizations for indiscernible reasons.
After the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, he pretended to be the shooter’s uncle. Riches was also indicted in federal court in 2018 for posing as the gunman who shot former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.
Our ruling: False
The Associated Press has confirmed the identity of the man at the Trump rally as Mike Gallagher, not former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin. And the man in the Make Whites Great Again hat is also not Chauvin, but Jonathan Lee Riches. We rate as FALSE the claim that either man in these widely circulated images is Chauvin.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Ex-officer Derek Chauvin wasn't at Donald Trump rally