Kellie Chauvin: Derek Chauvin's ex had once called him a gentleman; 'under that uniform, he's just a softie'
The former Mrs Minnesota decided to side with the victim, filing for divorce from her husband the day he was arrested for murder
Kellie Chauvin, the estranged wife of Derek Chauvin - the Minneapolis ex-cop accused of killing George Floyd after he was caught on camera kneeling on the victim's neck for nearly nine minutes - came into limelight after she filed for divorce the very day her husband was arrested for murder.
The 46-year-old former pageant title-holder was born in Laos in 1974. She was forced to move to Thailand when her family fled the war in 1977. After migrating to the United States, she became the first from the Hmong community to win the title of Mrs. Minnesota in 2018. Although she only participated in the pageant after being urged by a friend, she has since used her title to help her community.
In an interview last year, she told Twin Cities that she donated to several Hmong nonprofits and small businesses. She also opened up her house as a "safe haven" for Hmong women going through difficult times. “I help them find housing and jobs and provide resources they need to succeed,” she said. She volunteered as a translator at local hospitals and delivered winter items to families in need. Kellie was also planning to fund scholarships at the Century College and the Chippewa Valley Technical College.
She said that she was once ridiculed for her heritage, appearance, and refugee status and hence hoped that young girls who are experiencing similar criticism would derive inspiration from the Hmong community being represented in pageants through her. She's a former radiologist and most recently sold homes for estate agent Re/Max.
Kellie married Derek Chauvin in 2010. While the two do not have any children of their own, Kellie does have two kids from her previous marriage. Kellie told the St Paul Pioneer Press in a 2018 interview that she fell in love with Derek after he dropped off a suspect at a Minneapolis hospital where she worked. "Under that uniform, he's just a softie. He's such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me. After my [previous] divorce, I had a list of must-haves if I were ever to be in a relationship, and he fit all of them," she said.
Her world came crashing down on May 25, when a video showing her husband ignoring pleas of a handcuffed Floyd as he lay face down on the ground struggling to breathe went viral on social media - sparking an ongoing nationwide protest. Instead of siding with Derek, she took the victim's side. "Kellie is devastated by Mr. Floyd’s death and her utmost sympathy lies with his family, with his loved ones and with everyone who is grieving this tragedy," a statement released by Sekula Law Offices, a firm which represents Kellie, said at the time of her husband's arrest.
"She has filed for dissolution of her marriage to Derek Chauvin. While Ms. Chauvin has no children from her current marriage, she respectfully requests that her children, her elder parents, and her extended family be given safety and privacy during this difficult time."
She was praised on social media for her stand against her husband. "Kellie is a friend of mine. I knew her before she married Derek. She is a kind, gentle and compassionate woman. Prayers for her," wrote one, while another said, "I pray for peace and solace for this lady. She had nothing to do with the actions against Mr. Floyd."A third wrote, "My prayers go out to you Kellie as well. Your life changed in an instant and is over as you once knew it."
According to court papers obtained by The Sun, Kellie and Derek both waived their rights to "temporary or permanent spousal maintenance," from each other. She said in the filing that she "is full (sic) capable of supporting herself,” despite being an unemployed realtor at the moment. Kellie listed the reason for the end of their 10-year-long marriage as “irretrievable breakdown” of their relationship.
The court papers also stated that Kellie had applied to change her name, as part of the divorce proceedings. "As part of this proceeding, Petitioner shall adopt a new legal name. She is seeking a name change solely because of this marriage dissolution," the filing said, without mentioning what she will be changing her name to.