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Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is seen on a livestream after being convicted in the murder of George Floyd, on April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP/Minchillo) Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is seen on a livestream after being convicted in the murder of George Floyd, on April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP/Minchillo)

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is seen on a livestream after being convicted in the murder of George Floyd, on April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP/Minchillo)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy April 21, 2021

No, Derek Chauvin’s conviction in George Floyd murder wasn’t fake

If Your Time is short

  • Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted by a jury of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter after killing George Floyd in May 2020.

  • Chauvin was present in court but chose not to testify. Several witnesses who did testify were asked by the prosecution to identify Chauvin for the jury in court.

  • In a statement to PolitiFact, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Chauvin “is the same person the world has seen on video, in the courtroom and being led away in handcuffs to the maximum security prison at Oak Park Heights.”

  • “False flag” conspiracy theories regularly claim that major news events were staged or did not happen. This claim traces back to a QAnon-promoting Telegram account.

Shortly after a jury in Minneapolis convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter for the killing of George Floyd, a promoter of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory described a made-up version of events on Telegram, a messaging app.

The jury’s verdict followed nearly three weeks of testimony from dozens of witnesses about Chauvin’s murder of Floyd, who died handcuffed and gasping for air as Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020. Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter. He could spend decades in prison.

But in the Telegram poster’s telling, the verdict delivered in one of the most high-profile court cases in decades was "not real," the weeks-long trial that preceded it was faked, and the man taken into custody was "not Chauvin." Instead, it was all staged as part of a "false flag."

The Telegram post was shared by others on Facebook, where it was flagged as part of the platform’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

"I'm trying to figure out why people are rejoicing over a fake verdict in a fake trial. It's not even the same guy," said one user’s Facebook post. The post went on to claim that the defendant seen in court was a "crisis actor" posing as Chauvin, and that Floyd did not really die.

"People have been played again bait and switch," another post said. "The whole country was on edge for a fake trial, which is why the fake Chauvin was emotionless."

An April 20 Facebook post falsely claims that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial and conviction was faked.

The claims that Chauvin was replaced for a fake trial are as ridiculous as they sound. In a statement to PolitiFact, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said such posts are "ignorant and intentionally hurting the family and friends of George Floyd," as well as the witnesses to his murder.

"When this office charged Derek Chauvin with murder four days after he killed George Floyd, we knew exactly who he was," Freeman said in the statement. "He is the same person the world has seen on video, in the courtroom and being led away in handcuffs to the maximum security prison at Oak Park Heights."

Chauvin’s restraint of Floyd outside the Cup Foods convenience store was documented in a widely seen video captured by a bystander, as well as in police body camera footage and other video shown by the prosecution during his trial.

Much of Chauvin’s trial was streamed or televised live, including the reading of the jury’s verdict.

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In court on April 15, Chauvin removed his face mask before invoking his Fifth Amendment right and saying he would not testify. Judge Peter Cahill referred to him by name. 

At several other points throughout the trial, the prosecution asked witnesses who saw Floyd’s murder as it happened or knew Chauvin to identify or point to him in court. Donald Williams II, a witness to the scene, testified that the officer he saw with a knee on Floyd’s neck was the same person in court and on trial.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo also identified Chauvin for the jury as the man in court, telling prosecutors that "Mr. Chauvin is right there" and describing his outfit.

Other witnesses who identified Chauvin as being present in court included David Pleoger, a retired Minneapolis police sergeant who was Chauvin’s supervisor at the time of the murder, and three Minneapolis Police Department members in charge of various officer trainings.

Pleoger said he had known Chauvin since 2008 before identifying him in court. Inspector Katie Blackwell, who was formerly in charge of officer training, said she’d known him for 20 years.

"False flag" conspiracy theories are common

Social media posts alleging that Floyd’s murder and Chauvin’s arrest did not happen cropped up soon after the events took place outside Cup Foods and set off a summer of protests across the country. PolitiFact rated claims that Floyd’s murder was a "staged event" Pants on Fire, and we rated claims that Chauvin’s mugshot showed a different person False.

Floyd’s death was detailed in two autopsies that ruled it a homicide and described by several medical experts who testified during Chauvin’s trial.

In general, "false flag" conspiracy theories alleging that major events are staged commonly circulate online after mass shootings and other incidents that make news.

Our ruling

Various Facebook posts claimed that Chauvin’s trial and conviction for the murder of Floyd was faked as part of a "false flag."

These Facebook posts are inaccurate and make a ridiculous claim. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter April 20 after a weeks-long trial. Several of the trial’s witnesses testified that the defendant in court was the same man they knew to be Chauvin.

Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, rejected the Facebook posts and said Chauvin "is the same person the world has seen on video, in the courtroom and being led away in handcuffs."

We rate these Facebook posts Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Various Facebook posts, April 20, 2021

Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul on YouTube, "Judge Cahill reads verdict, Derek Chauvin found guilty on all three counts | FOX 9 KMSP," April 20, 2021

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "A day-by-day recap of the Derek Chauvin murder trial," April 15, 2021

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "Who are the witnesses in the Derek Chauvin trial?" April 15, 2021

NBC News on YouTube, "Derek Chauvin Says He Will Not Testify, Invokes 5th Amendment | NBC News NOW," April 15, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 7 - Ofc Nicole Mackenzie - Minneapolis PD," April 6, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 7 - Sgt Ker Yang - Crisis Intervention Coordinator," April 6, 2021

Reuters on YouTube, "LIVE: Derek Chauvin trial continues; Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo, others testify (Day 6)," April 5, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 6 - Chief of Police, Medaria Arradondo, Ofc Katie Blackwell," April 5, 2021

Star Tribune on YouTube, "Complete testimony of David Pleoger, MPD, retired," April 2, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 3 - Lt James Rugel, Foundational Witness - Body Cam Videos," March 31, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 2 - Continuing with Donald Williams - Darnella, Filmed Encounter," March 30, 2021

Darnella Frazier on Facebook, May 26, 2020

Statement from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, April 20, 2021

Twitter direct message exchange with Mike Rothschild, researcher and expert on the QAnon conspiracy theory, April 20, 2021

PolitiFact, "The guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin, explained," April 20, 2021

PolitiFact, "No, autopsy doesn’t say George Floyd died of overdose," March 30, 2021

PolitiFact, "No, these two photos of Derek Chauvin don’t show two different men," June 5, 2020

PolitiFact, "Conspiracy theory falsely claims George Floyd’s death was staged," May 29, 2021

PolitiFact, "Why do some people think mass shootings are staged every time?" Aug. 8, 2019

Various Facebook posts, April 20, 2021

Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul on YouTube, "Judge Cahill reads verdict, Derek Chauvin found guilty on all three counts | FOX 9 KMSP," April 20, 2021

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "A day-by-day recap of the Derek Chauvin murder trial," April 15, 2021

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "Who are the witnesses in the Derek Chauvin trial?" April 15, 2021

NBC News on YouTube, "Derek Chauvin Says He Will Not Testify, Invokes 5th Amendment | NBC News NOW," April 15, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 7 - Ofc Nicole Mackenzie - Minneapolis PD," April 6, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 7 - Sgt Ker Yang - Crisis Intervention Coordinator," April 6, 2021

Reuters on YouTube, "LIVE: Derek Chauvin trial continues; Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo, others testify (Day 6)," April 5, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 6 - Chief of Police, Medaria Arradondo, Ofc Katie Blackwell," April 5, 2021

Star Tribune on YouTube, "Complete testimony of David Pleoger, MPD, retired," April 2, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 3 - Lt James Rugel, Foundational Witness - Body Cam Videos," March 31, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 2 - Continuing with Donald Williams - Darnella, Filmed Encounter," March 30, 2021

Darnella Frazier on Facebook, May 26, 2020

Statement from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, April 20, 2021

Twitter direct message exchange with Mike Rothschild, researcher and expert on the QAnon conspiracy theory, April 20, 2021

PolitiFact, "The guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin, explained," April 20, 2021

PolitiFact, "No, autopsy doesn’t say George Floyd died of overdose," March 30, 2021

PolitiFact, "No, these two photos of Derek Chauvin don’t show two different men," June 5, 2020

PolitiFact, "Conspiracy theory falsely claims George Floyd’s death was staged," May 29, 2021

PolitiFact, "Why do some people think mass shootings are staged every time?" Aug. 8, 2019

Various Facebook posts, April 20, 2021

Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul on YouTube, "Judge Cahill reads verdict, Derek Chauvin found guilty on all three counts | FOX 9 KMSP," April 20, 2021

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "A day-by-day recap of the Derek Chauvin murder trial," April 15, 2021

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "Who are the witnesses in the Derek Chauvin trial?" April 15, 2021

NBC News on YouTube, "Derek Chauvin Says He Will Not Testify, Invokes 5th Amendment | NBC News NOW," April 15, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 7 - Ofc Nicole Mackenzie - Minneapolis PD," April 6, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 7 - Sgt Ker Yang - Crisis Intervention Coordinator," April 6, 2021

Reuters on YouTube, "LIVE: Derek Chauvin trial continues; Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo, others testify (Day 6)," April 5, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 6 - Chief of Police, Medaria Arradondo, Ofc Katie Blackwell," April 5, 2021

Star Tribune on YouTube, "Complete testimony of David Pleoger, MPD, retired," April 2, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 3 - Lt James Rugel, Foundational Witness - Body Cam Videos," March 31, 2021

Law & Crime Network on YouTube, "MN v. Derek Chauvin Trial Day 2 - Continuing with Donald Williams - Darnella, Filmed Encounter," March 30, 2021

Darnella Frazier on Facebook, May 26, 2020

Statement from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, April 20, 2021

Twitter direct message exchange with Mike Rothschild, researcher and expert on the QAnon conspiracy theory, April 20, 2021

PolitiFact, "The guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin, explained," April 20, 2021

PolitiFact, "No, autopsy doesn’t say George Floyd died of overdose," March 30, 2021

PolitiFact, "No, these two photos of Derek Chauvin don’t show two different men," June 5, 2020

PolitiFact, "Conspiracy theory falsely claims George Floyd’s death was staged," May 29, 2021

PolitiFact, "Why do some people think mass shootings are staged every time?" Aug. 8, 2019

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More by Bill McCarthy

No, Derek Chauvin’s conviction in George Floyd murder wasn’t fake

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