Tou Thao is one of the four police officers involved in the controversial death of George Floyd. On May 25, 2020, an employee at Cup Foods at 3579 Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States called the Minneapolis Police Department to report a customer who was trying to pay with a counterfeit $20 bill.
Apparently, Floyd matched the suspect’s descriptions. While sitting on the hood of his car, he was arrested by Thao and three other cops namely Derek Michael Chauvin, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng.
It was a deadly encounter witnessed by several bystanders and streamed on Facebook Live. As shown in the video, Floyd was lying face down on the street next to the police car’s rear passenger wheel while repeatedly telling the cops he could not breathe.
Paramedics arrived moments after Floyd started to lose consciousness and he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis where he eventually died.
On May 26, 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigations launched an investigation. On the same day, the Minneapolis Police Department terminated Thao and his three colleagues involved in the incident. Here are 13 more facts about the Asian-American police officer:
- He is of Hmong descent.
- He is a 12-year veteran.
- The Minneapolis Police Department hired him on February 4, 2008.
- He started as a community service officer.
- His badge number is 7162.
- In 2009, he went through the Minneapolis Police Academy.
- He was laid off from 2010 to 2011.
- In 2012, the Minneapolis Police Department hired him back and gave him a full-time position.
- Six complaints have been filed against him prior to Floyd’s death but no disciplinary action was ever taken, according to Communities United Against Police Brutality.
- On October 7, 2014, he and fellow police officer Robert Thunder arrested Lamar Ferguson, physically assaulted the arrestee and took him to the hospital before putting him to jail.
- In 2017, he and Thunder were sued by Ferguson for excessive use of force and the case was closed in 2018 with the Minneapolis Police Department settling with Ferguson for $25,000.
- For the case involving the death of Floyd, he is represented by Robert Paule, one of the top-rated criminal defense attorneys in Minneapolis with more than three decades of experience in general practice.
- He did not physically touch Floyd and was busy interacting with the eyewitnesses, asking them to “get back on the sidewalk” while his three colleagues were holding the arrestee.