Officer in Floyd killing says his role was crowd control

9 months ago

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's killing testified that he was relying on his fellow officers to care for Floyd’s medical needs while he controlled traffic and onlookers as police tried to arrest the Black man.

Tou Thao is one of three former officers charged in federal court with violating Floyd’s constitutional rights when Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes as the 46-year-old man was handcuffed, facedown on the street. Thao is scheduled to resume testifying Wednesday.

He testified Tuesday that when he and Chauvin arrived, Officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were struggling with Floyd. Thao said he took a position on the roadway to serve as “a human traffic cone” to keep cars away from the other officers. Kueng knelt on Floyd's back, while Lane held his legs.

Thao said he heard onlookers becoming more anxious about Floyd’s condition and calling on officers to check his pulse. But he said his role was crowd control; there were about 15 bystanders.

His attorney, Robert Paule, asked Thao whether he saw any officers roll Floyd over and perform CPR. He said he did not, and presumed that meant Floyd was breathing.

“It indicated that Mr. Floyd was not in cardiac arrest,” said Thao, who later testified that he didn't know there was anything seriously wrong with Floyd even as an ambulance took him away.

But prosecutor LeeAnn Bell noted video shows Thao looking at the other officers much of the time and suggested that bystanders and traffic were not big threats. Thao acknowledged under cross-examination that he did nothing to provide medical care to Floyd or intervene to stop Chauvin even after it appeared to him that Floyd was no longer resisting.

Thao conceded he was standing near Floyd when he stopped speaking and moving.

“And you know that’s a red flag,” Bell said.

“Not always, but you should take note,” Thao responded.

Thao, Kueng and Lane are accused of depriving Floyd of medical care. Kueng and Thao are also accused of failing to intervene to stop the May 25, 2020, killing, which triggered protests worldwide and a reexamination of racism and policing. The charges allege the officers’ actions resulted in Floyd’s death.

Kueng and Lane also plan to testify.

Prosecutors rested their case Monday after calling to the stand doctors, police officers and bystanders to build an argument that the officers should have intervened to stop Chauvin and that they violated their training by not rolling Floyd onto his side so he could breathe or giving him CPR.

Defense attorneys are seeking to show that the Minneapolis Police Department provided inadequate training and taught cadets to obey superiors. Chauvin, who was convicted of state murder and manslaughter charges last year, was the most s...

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