Officer in Floyd Arrest: I Was a 'Human Traffic Cone'

Tou Thao gave an interview that's being used as court evidence
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2020 12:10 PM CDT
Officer in Floyd Arrest: I Was a 'Human Traffic Cone'
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.   (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP)

A former Minneapolis police officer who helped arrest George Floyd said his job at the scene was crowd control—in fact, he called himself a "human traffic cone." Tou Thao made the remarks in a voluntary interview with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension eight days after Floyd's death, the the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "As the crowd is starting to grow and become loud and hostile toward us, I decided to forgo [monitoring] traffic and put myself in between the crowd and the officers ... and just spend the majority of my attention looking at the crowd—make sure they don't charge us or bull rush us as the officers on the ground are defenseless," he said. He often spoke of the officers' safety but only mentioned Floyd's when asked by a BCA special agent.

Thao said he and former officer Derek Chauvin rushed to the scene and helped two other officers because it sounded like "something urgent, like they were struggling with somebody." He added that Floyd seemed to be on drugs and pushed himself out of the squad car "saying he's claustrophobic," per KARE11. Did he hear Floyd say he couldn't breathe? Yes, "but then he was obviously yelling and talking." Should he have checked on Floyd? "No, because my job is scene security." And when he heard Floyd had died? "It was kind of a somber moment, especially for me. My heart kind of sank." Thao is among three officers charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter, while Chauvin, whose knee was on Floyd's neck, faces two murder charges and one manslaughter charge. (New footage of Floyd's arrest prompted an investigation.)

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