On Tuesday, Tou Thao, 35, became the first of the four Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of chronic felon George Floyd to take the stand in his own defense.
It is too bad that the trial is not being televised. Sadder still is that almost no one is paying attention. In his several hours on the stand, Thao and his attorney Robert Paule made mincemeat of the state and federal case against all four officers.
The goal of the prosecutors, justice be damned, is to convict Derek Chauvin’s three colleagues, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Thao – one black, one white, one Asian American – on federal civil rights charges.
Broken by the process, Chauvin pleaded guilty to the federal charges after previously being convicted by the state of murder.
The three other officers are charged with using the “color of the law” to deprive Floyd of his civil rights in the May 2020 incident.
This means basically that the officers saw Floyd in distress but declined to help, “thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd” and contributing to his death.
Kueng and Thao face the additional charge of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin. They will face state charges for roughly the same “crime” in June.
The federal trial is pure Democratic performance art, a sop to the base in an election year. All three former cops pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Thao, of Hmong descent, walked the court through the events of May 25, 2020. As he explained, he and Chauvin were partners on that fateful day. They were eating lunch when the call came in regarding Floyd.
Thao and Chauvin were on their way to back up Lane and Kueng when a dispatcher canceled the call. Thao and Chauvin continued to Cup Foods in any case because they knew it to be “hostile to police … a well-known Bloods gang hangout.”
Planning to act as security for the other officers, Thao and Chauvin changed their plans when they saw the resistance Floyd was exerting to being placed in the back of the squad car.
In his eight years on the force Thao testified that he had “never seen this much of a struggle.” He believed that the drugs Floyd had taken gave him “super-human strength,” more strength “than the three officers could handle.”
Thao was not involved in the struggle. He was positioned between the increasingly hostile crowd and the officers subduing Floyd.
Instead of basing his case on this separate role, Thao attacked the idea that his fellow officers were doing something outside their training.
Paule showed the jury a 2009 photo of Thao taken at the police academy. In the photo Thao and another cadet were using their knees to pin a handcuffed actor to the ground in a prone position much like Floyd’s.
“Just to be clear,” Paule asked, “is this something that was typically taught at the academy when you were there?” As evidence, Paule showed the jury multiple photos of cadets in training sessions with their knees on the backs and necks of pretend suspects.
“Yes,” said Thao.
“Were you ever told it’s improper?” Paule asked.
When asked how he felt upon seeing Chauvin using the knee restraint, Thao answered, “It was not uncommon. We had been trained on it.”
Of note, Thao explained why the officers were not overly concerned about Floyd’s claim, starting in the patrol car, that he could not breathe.
Apparently, such complaints had become “a regular occurrence” after 2014 when Eric Garner died in New York City in police custody after saying he could not breathe.
In fact, it was in 2014 at Ferguson that the media and BLM decided that perps resisting arrest made for good theater. That theater, alas, has discouraged law enforcement from pro-active policing.
The net result has been a shocking spike in homicides nationwide, especially in those cities where the media staged their morality plays.
Most of the victims are black. Black lives apparently matter only when their deaths have some exploitable political value. This year, like 2014, is an election year. Fasten your seat belts.
Jack Cashill’s latest book, “Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply,” is now on sale. See www.cashill.com for more information.
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