MINNEAPOLIS, MN—On Wednesday, June 3, the ex-officers complicit in Derek Chauvin’s, 44, murder of George Floyd, 46, were arrested and charged. Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They are being held on $1 million bail.
Thao is the cop in the viral video who stood by during the incident. Lang and Kueng were the first to confront Floyd, and Thao later arrived on the scene with Chauvin. He was the only officer who did not physically interact with Floyd. He was beside Chauvin and instructed onlookers to get back on the sidewalk. At one point, he put his hands on a citizen to keep them back. After the death of Floyd sparked public outrage, Thao fled Minnesota, as claimed by his criminal defense attorney Robert Paulie.
He was an officer for 11 years, he is also a native Hmong speaker. He joined the police force part-time as a community service officer in 2008, while simultaneously attending community college. In 2009, he went through the academy. He was laid off for unknown reasons and returned to the department in 2012. Thao previously worked as a security guard, a supermarket stocker, and a trainer at McDonald’s.
Minneapolis city records indicate that there have been six complaints filed against Thao. In 2014, he was involved in an incident of police brutality. Lamar Ferguson alleged that Thao and an additional officer beat him and broke his teeth while he was handcuffed. Ferguson sued and the city paid $25,000 to settle the case in 2017. Ferguson recounted the events to The Sun stating: “[Thao] was the most aggressive one, I was in handcuffs within the first few minutes of the incident. I was horrified.”
Rumors circulated on social media that Derek Chauvin’s soon to be ex-wife, Kellie Chauvin, was Thao’s sister, but that information is false. Though Kellie does have a brother working in law enforcement, it is not Thao.