The claim: Derek Chauvin’s hand was in his pocket while pinning George Floyd to the ground
As witness testimony continues in the trial of Derek Chauvin, viral posts have surfaced on social media claiming the former Minneapolis police officer’s hand was in his pocket while pinning George Floyd to the ground.
The description paints a particularly nonchalant picture, which would be a jarring contrast to the incident’s tragic outcome.
Chauvin is facing murder and manslaughter charges over the death of Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man who died May 25, 2020, when Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes.
“If George Floyd were resisting, Chauvin’s hands wouldn’t have been in his pockets,” reads an April 6 Facebook post with over 700 shares and 50 reactions.
In similar versions of the claim, Instagram pages shared the same text accompanied by an image that purportedly shows Chauvin with his left hand in his pockets, which is circled in bright yellow. USA TODAY reached out to the social media users for comment.
In the comments, some users questioned the veracity of the claim, saying Chauvin was wearing gloves.
It turns out they’re right to question this claim.
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A closer look at the image and video footage
The hand-in-pocket narrative appeared to grow out of screen grabs from a witness’s video of the incident, and it spread widely. Some news accounts describing Chauvin with his hand in his pocket, in addition to the social media posts. And one witness at his trial, Genevieve Hansen, even said, “In my memory, he had his hand in his pocket.”
But the narrative is wrong.
While a quick look at the image gives the impression Chauvin’s left hand was in his pocket, a closer inspection of the image and review of video footage shows Chauvin is wearing dark colored gloves, which have blended in with his black uniform pants.
The image used to make the claim is a screengrab from a video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck that was captured by Darnella Frazier, a teenager who witnessed the incident.
Still frames make it look as if Chauvin’s left hand is in his pocket, however, the full video clearly shows him wearing a black glove. At the 2:15, 2:31 and 3:30 marks of Frazier’s video, Chauvin is seen moving his left hand away from his leg and resting it against the vehicle. From mark 5:55 until the paramedics arrive, Chauvin’s left hand is near his hip holding his duty belt.
At no point does the video show his left hand in his pocket.
Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin pins George Floyd to the ground on May 25. Floyd later died. Chauvin was fired the next day. (Photo: Darnella Frazier via Storyful)
A closer look at the still frames reveals the same thing.
Using image editing software, USA TODAY adjusted the exposure, brightness and vibrancy of the original still image to highlight the dark gloves against the black pants. The lightened image shows Chauvin’s fingers bent backwards resting against his upper thigh.
Frame from video shared by Darnella Frazier on May 25, 2020 of Minneapolis officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Exposure, brightness and vibrance have been adjusted to accentuate black gloves. (Photo: Darnella Frazier Via Storyful)
An additional New York Daily News screengrab of Chauvin at a different angle shows a clearer picture of his black-gloved left hand on his leg, not in his pocket.
Chauvin’s right hand is not as visible in the video footage, but when it does appear at the beginning, it is seen on Floyd or on the vehicle. And the portion of his right arm visible at other times is not consistent with a hand being in his pocket.
Former Minneapolis police Officer Tou Thao is also seen in the video wearing black gloves.
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Our rating: False
The claim that former Officer Derek Chauvin had his hand in his pocket while kneeling on George Floyd is FALSE, based on our research. A review of the full video of the incident, along with a lightened version of the photo used in the claim, shows Chauvin was wearing a black glove on his left hand that blended in with his dark pants. The hand was actually resting on his leg and hip at various points.
Our fact-check sources:
- Darnella Frazier, May 25, 2020, Facebook video
- USA TODAY, March 30, “Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded George Floyd’s death on video says it changed her life”
- New York Daily News, May 26, 2020, “‘I can’t breathe’: Black suspect dies after Minneapolis cop filmed restraining him with knee against his neck for five minutes”
- Storyful, May, 25, 2020, Screengrab from Darnella Frazier video
- USA TODAY, April 5, “Week 2 begins in the Derek Chauvin trial: Police chief testifies that restraint of George Floyd ‘absolutely’ violated policy”
- Reuters, March 29, Witnesses to George Floyd’s deadly arrest tell jury of their shock, horror
- CNN TRANSCRIPTS, March 30, Defense Cross-Examines Firefighter At Scene Of George Floyd’s Death
- USA TODAY, March 30, Updates from Day 2 of the Derek Chauvin trial: 9-year-old, teen who recorded video of George Floyd’s death among witnesses
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