Third body camera video in Floyd death released
Bodycam footage of ex-cop Tou Thao was publicly released by the court Thursday
By Chao Xiong
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
MINNEAPOLIS — A third body camera video from the day George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police was publicly released by the court Thursday, showing that an officer pushed two men as he tried to keep angry bystanders at bay.
Former officer Tou Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, filed Thao’s body camera video with the court to support a motion to dismiss criminal charges against him. Paule has argued in court filings that the case should be dropped because Thao was focused on crowd control and didn’t have a full view of what was happening as three of his former colleagues restrained Floyd, among other reasons.
The video showed that Thao grew aggressive as he engaged with a growing number of bystanders, including a 17- and 9-year-old, who gathered out front of Cup Foods on Chicago Avenue at E. 38th St. to watch.
Thao yelled at the group, told them “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids,” and said officers spent 10 minutes trying to get Floyd into the back seat of a squad car before restraining him in the street. The span was closer to 4½ minutes.
About 11 minutes into the video, a young man watched in disbelief as former officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane held onto an unresponsive Floyd stomach-down in the street behind a squad car. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck long after Floyd had stopped talking and moving.
The man stepped off the sidewalk into the street and looked on stunned, prompting Thao to push him in the chest with one hand. The man didn’t immediately obey Thao’s orders to step back.
He swiped Thao’s hand away before returning to the sidewalk.
A little over a minute later, another man stepped off the sidewalk into the street. He previously told the officers he had gone through the police academy.
“You’re gonna just sit there with your knee on his neck, bro?” the man said. “You’re a real man, bro.”
The man held his cellphone aloft as if to record the incident.
“Get back on the [sidewalk]!” Thao yelled as he used his right hand to push the man’s chest.
“Don’t touch me!” the man yelled several times as he leapt backward with his arms in the air.
The video’s release provided a fuller picture of the May 25 scene where Floyd was killed after being investigated for allegedly using a fake $20 bill at Cup Foods. Bodycam videos recorded by Lane and Kueng were broadly released Monday after the media and public were allowed to view them last month by appointment.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, filed the first two videos in early July along with a motion to dismiss the charges against his client. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill will hear oral arguments on Paule’s and Gray’s motions at a Sept. 11 hearing.
As part of a motion filed Wednesday to try all four former officers in one trial next March, prosecutors filed Thao’s and Lane’s interviews with investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with the court. Those recordings were sent via mail, and had not been received by the court for public distribution, a court spokesman said Thursday.
In court filings, Paule argued that Thao never physically laid hands on Floyd and that he offered a hobble restraint which wasn’t used, and that would have negated a neck restraint.
Thao also contacted emergency medical personnel and asked them to increase their urgency from a code 2 to a code 3, which activated their lights and sirens, Paule wrote in a memo filed last week. The moment was captured by Thao’s body camera.
“The last time Officer Thao turned around to see what was happening, Mr. Floyd was alive and breathing,” Paule wrote. “Officer Thao spent the time during the arrest of Mr. Floyd focused on keeping the civilian bystanders out of the scene to allow the other three officers to effectuate the legal arrest.”
Thao’s bodycam video showed that about 9 minutes in, a woman approached him from behind and introduced herself as a Minneapolis firefighter, which he openly questioned. She asked if Floyd had a pulse.
“Back off!” Thao yelled at the woman as he repeatedly pointed a finger in her face. “Get off the street!”
“I’m watching,” the woman said as she stepped onto the sidewalk. “Does he have a pulse? Check — check for a pulse, please.”
Prosecutors confirmed the woman’s employment as a Minneapolis firefighter and argued in court filings that the officers rejected her help and relegated her to the sidewalk, although Kueng took Floyd’s pulse at some point and told his colleagues that he couldn’t detect one.
After Floyd was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, Thao crossed the street and told a Minneapolis Park Police officer who was assisting that he had left his body camera on because the bystanders were “hostile.” He also told the officer and Chauvin that a male bystander had “allegedly” gone through the police academy.
“Uh huh,” Chauvin said. “Of course.”
“And the other lady over there is a firefighter, so — allegedly,” Thao said.
“Of course,” Chauvin said. “Of course.”
Thao, Kueng and Lane are each charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane knelt and held onto Floyd’s legs.
Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, is charged with one count each of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
©2020 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)