Tou Thao is one of the four ex-Minneapolis cops who is facing the trial in George Floyd‘s death. George Floyd was an African-American from Houston’s Third Ward who died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, 2020, an incident that sparked nationwide outrage, which led to four police officers’ firing, including Tou Thao. In a viral video, a police officer named Derek Chauvin was seen pressing Floyd’s neck under his knee for a few minutes until Floyd went unconscious, leading to his death. Floyd’s death attracted massive protests over 100 cities in the United States and worldwide.
Tou Thao was born in 1986 (age 34 years; as in 2020). People At the age of fourteen, Tou had started doing odd jobs, first at McDonald’s, then Cub Foods, and then as a security guard. He worked as a security guard and took community college courses simultaneously. Daily Beast
Family & Ethnicity
Tou Thao comes from a Hmong American family. Hmong Americans belong to a Southeast Asian ethnic community, and they are mainly concentrated in the Midwest and California. NBC News Reportedly, the immigration of Hmong people into the Midwest and California happened during the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees due to the Vietnam War. Daily Beast
In 2009, Tou Thao joined the Minneapolis Police Department; after taking community college courses. His first posting was as a community service officer. Amidst budget cuts, many cops were laid off, including Tou Thao for two years. Tou rejoined the Minneapolis Police Department in 2012. Vox
George Floyd Murder Case
Tou Thao was one of the four Minneapolis cops who had arrested George Floyd on the evening of May 25, 2020, at around 8:08-8:28 pm. They had mistaken him as someone who tried to transact a counterfeit $20 bill at a store in Minneapolis to buy cigarettes. Later, a video of George Floyd’s arrest went viral on social media in which George was seen handcuffed, and officer Derek Chauvin was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd complaining he couldn’t breathe. According to sources, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds; meanwhile, Tou Thao was spotted standing guard to Chavin and dispersing the crowd across the street.
Reportedly, officers Chauvin and Thao approached Floyd after they had received a call from a grocery store that claimed Floyd had used a forged check. According to sources, when Floyd resisted arrest, they pinned him to the ground after dragging him from his car. The Sun While talking about the fatal encounter of George Floyd, Kabzuag Vaj, a Hmong-American who is the founder of Freedom Inc. (a nonprofit that aims to end violence toward minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community), said,
Trial & Bail
The four officers (Derek Michael Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas K. Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng) involved in George Floyd‘s alleged arrest and encounter were placed on leave on May 26, 2020. Later, on the same day, they were fired, and an announcement was made by the FBI to review the incident.
The United States Department of Justice and the FBI in a joint statement on May 28, 2020, said,
A comprehensive investigation will compile all available information and thoroughly evaluate evidence and information obtained from witnesses … If it is determined that there has been a violation of federal law, criminal charges will be sought.”
Following the death of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin was arrested on May 29, 2020, and with this, he became the first white officer in Minnesota to be charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. On June 3, 2020, Tou Thao was arrested who was charged with aiding and abetting without intent second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk. People All four cops (Derek Michael Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas K. Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng), who were involved in George Floyd’s fatal encounter, appeared in court on June 29, 2020.
Later, the next hearing in the case was set for September 11, 2020, by Judge Peter A. Cahill of Hennepin County District Court, the judge also fixed a trial date of March 8, 2021. People On “bond and conditional release,” Tou Thao was released from the Hennepin County Jail on July 4, 2020. His bail was set at $1 million with no conditions or $750,000 bail with conditions. Except for Derek Chauvin, who is still lodged in jail, the remaining three cops, Tou Thao, Thomas K. Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng have been released on bail. The bail set for Derek Chavin is $1.25 million. People
- Before getting charged in George Floyd‘s death, Tou Thao had six civilian complaints against him in Minneapolis, including the one in which he assaulted a black man. Daily Beast
- A lawsuit was also filed against Tou Thao and another officer, Robert Thunder, which was settled out of court for $25,000. The suit’s plaintiff, Lamar Ferguson in his complaint said that they punched, kicked, and kneed, which caused broken teeth, bruising, and trauma. Vox
- After the arrest of four cops, a rumor started doing round that one of the officers, Derek Chavin‘s wife, Kellie Chauvin was the sister of Tou Thao. Later, the lawyer Amanda Mason-Sekula who had initiated the divorce between Kellie and Derek Chavin, said,
- According to sources, Tou Thao could attract sentence up to 25 years in jail for third-degree murder and 10 years for second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd‘s case. Vox
- While talking about his decision to fire all four cops, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said,
There are absolute truths in life … the killing of Mr. Floyd was an absolute truth that it was wrong. I did not need days or weeks or months or processes or bureaucracies to tell me that what occurred out here last Monday was wrong.”
- Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo also said that Tou Thao and the other two officers were complicit when Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck, he said,
Mr. Floyd died in our hands and so I see that as being complicit. Silence and inaction — you’re complicit. You’re complicit. If there were one solitary voice that would have intervened … that’s what I would have hoped for.”
- Tou Thao, being a Hmong American, has triggered a new discussion in the country about how to approach the issue of anti-blackness in the Asian American community as in 2006, just like George Floyd‘s fatal encounter, a 19-year-old Hmong boy, Fong Lee was also shot dead by a white officer of Minneapolis police. NBC News