Less than a week after the release of former Minneapolis, Minnesota Police officer Tou Thao’s body camera footage, an interview he had with state investigators on June 2 has been released.
During the interview with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), Thao recalled the moment he and officer Derek Chauvin got the call for backup, and the events leading up to George Floyd’s death.
Thao said dispatch had originally canceled the call because the first two responding officers seemed to have the situation under control, but Thao insisted he and his partner Chauvin respond for security reasons.
“Knowing the area, Cup Foods, especially that specific store is the known blood gang hangout especially hostile to police,” said Thao.
Thao said when he arrived at the scene he saw a struggle between officers and Floyd as they attempted to put him in the back of a squad car.
“He’s yelling saying he doesn’t want to go into the squad car and saying he’s claustrophobic,” said Thao.
According to Thao, he tried to help get Floyd in the car but they were unable to, so he suggested another option.
“Lets just stop what we’re doing and put him on the ground,” said Thao.
“Was there ever any discussion or suggestion that maybe we just talk to him and see what the problem is?” asked one of the BCA investigators. Thao replied. “I would assume they did.” “What about from you though?” asked the investigator. “Did you make that suggestion or try to do that?” “I was not the contact officer so I did not attempt to do that,” said Thao.
By now a crowd started to gather and watching the whole scene play out.
“As the crowd is starting to grow and become loud and hostile towards us I decided to forego traffic and put myself in between the crowd and the officers,” said Thao.
Investigators asked Thoa why he didn’t intervene when Floyd can be heard saying I can’t breathe.
Thao said his concern was controlling the crowd and Floyd’s wellbeing was not his responsibility at the time.
“I was concerned with the crowd, I mean I would hope that the other officers would do their job and check on him,” said Thao. He went on to say, “in school we’re trained like hey if a suspects claiming they cant breathe, if they’re talking then they’re breathing.”
Thao is charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death, along with fellow former officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. Former officer Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. All four were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department following Floyd’s death.
“You hope to go through your career never having to deal with a situation like this you know when someone dies its effected my family and its taken a mental toll,” said Thao.