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Tou Thao

Tou Thao: Former Minneapolis police officer faces federal charges in George Floyd’s killing

Mr. Thao, who graduated from the Minneapolis Police Department academy in 2009, was Chauvin’s partner the day of Mr Floyd’s murder.

According to city records, Mr. Thao had received six prior complaints while on the force.

Mr. Thao and another officer were also accused of beating a man in 2014, which became the subject of 2017 federal lawsuit accusing him of excessive force. The suit was settled for $25,000.

After Chauvin arrived on the scene with Mr. Thao, Mr. Lane and Mr. Kueng were struggling with Mr. Floyd – now handcuffed – inside a police car.

Mr. Kueng and Mr. Thao – who kept bystanders away from the scene – are accused of failing to stop Chauvin and failing to help Mr. Floyd.

Video captured by body-worn camera shows a man asking Mr Thao: “You gonna let him kill that man in front of you, bro?”

Mr. Thao at one point says: “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids.”

According to video, he orders bystanders to stay on the sidewalk, and tells a person who identifies as a firefighter to “back off” when they approach to ask for Mr. Floyd’s pulse.

In an interview with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Mr. Thao said he “decided to forgo traffic, put myself between the crowd and officers ... make sure they don’t charge us or bull rush” the officers responding to Mr. Floyd.

Mr. Thao recalled the scene, believing Mr. Floyd would not be “cooperative, he’s already showing it,” he told investigators.

“If we put him in [a squad car], possibly he might end up hurting himself or bang himself on the windows or kicking out,” he said. “Let’s just stop what we’re doing, put him on the ground and call for an ambulance.”

A federal indictment alleges that Mr. Thao and Mr. Kueng were “aware” that Chauvin was holding his knee against Mr. Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and not resisting, even after he became unresponsive.

Mr. Thao and Mr. Kueng “willfully failed to intervene” to stop Chauvin’s “unreasonable use of force”, according to the indictment.

Federal prosecutors have accused Mr. Kueng and Mr. Thao of violating Mr. Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure, as well as failing to render medical aid.

Both counts allege the officers’ actions resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death.

The men have pleaded not guilty.

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