Tou Mo Cha Wiki
The case that led to the firing of 5 St. Paul officers involved an assault outside a Payne-Phalen bar. Tou Mo Cha, a former St. Paul police officer whose wife owns the bar, is charged with felony assault of a patron.
Sources tell @WCCO the alleged incident happened at Eastside Checkerboard Pizza.
The then-previously longtime Minneapolis police officer would be implicated, accused, and charged in violent incidents including being involved in a shooting to felony assault and tied into political intrigue dating back to the 1970s in the secret CIA war in Laos.
For now, multiple reports indicate Cha may at the center of the incident in the summer of 2018 that led Thursday to the firing of five St. Paul police officers who their chief said did not intervene when a man was brutally beaten.
There are lots to unpack, beginning in ’03 and culminating with an emotional press conference today when St Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said in an impassioned press conference it was an “ugly day” for his department as he apologized to residents.
An 11-Year Police Officer, Cha Was Arrested in May of 2004 on Suspicion of Firing His .40-caliber Glock Semi-Automatic Pistol at the Homes & Businesses of Asian-Americans
In a report from Minneapolis Public Radio, St. Paul police arrested their own officer, then 35 and had been on the force for 11 years, in May of 2004 for firing his gun into the businesses and homes of Asian-Americans business owners and community figures in St Paul when shell casings at crime scenes matched his service weapon. He was arrested for aggravated assault. Police said he “fired his weapon into the windows of several Asian-American businesses” and “into the home of a Hmong family in Maplewood.”
UPDATE: The case that led to the firing of 5 St. Paul officers involved an assault outside a Payne-Phalen bar. Tou Mo Cha, a former St. Paul police officer whose wife owns the bar, is charged with felony assault of a patron. https://t.co/Fljw9jwfBH
— Mara Gottfried (@MaraGottfried) June 13, 2019
He was convicted in 2005 of “lending out his service pistol, which was then used in the shootings.” He claimed he gave his .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol to another Hmong businessman to threaten another person. Those accusations were denied. But Cha pleaded out and was forced out of the police department afterward.
It Was Alleged the Shootings Were Tied to Cha, the Hmong & the CIA’s Secret War in Laos
The victims, the people whose homes and businesses had been fired on, were connected to General Vang Pao, a Hmong community leader. Pao’s “interpreter,” MPR reported was Xang Vang, whose home was fired on, and who was involved in the CIA’s controversial war on communists in Laos in the 1970s.
Vang is a Laotian war veteran and was, it was reported 15 years ago, then active in Republican politics and “helped organize the Hmong on behalf of then-President George W. Bush’s campaign.”
“Ballistics tests confirmed that a bullet casing recovered from Xang Vang’s house had been fired from Tou Cha’s weapon. The house was fired upon at least five times, but no one was injured,” it was reported.
It was reported at the time that “some in the Hmong community suspect the perpetrators are motivated by political divisions formed many years ago in Laos.”
The then-police chief told MPR he was not interested in what happened in Laos, only what happened in St. Paul.
In ‘09, Cha Was Identified Simply as a Pizza Delivery Man in a Cheeky News Story Detailing How he Fought Off Would-Be Pizza Thieves by Stabbing One
Cha had a history of alleged violence and police brutality. MPR reported Cha had “been accused of using excessive force in three previous incidents. Two years ago he was accused of violently subduing a junior high student.”
In the cheekily-written 2009 story, while delivering pizzas for Eastside Checkerboard Pizza, Cha was approached by two men who he said was trying to rob him: “The delivery man pulled a letter opener from his pocket and stabbed” one of the alleged thieves “in the chest.”
The dot in this case is the restaurant. Soon to be connected.
Checkerbar Food & Liquor, also called Eastside Checkerboard Pizza, an Arcade Street restaurant and bar owned by Cha’s wife would be the scene of a beating that claimed the life of a St. Paul man.
In 2014, a Man Was Beaten at the Former Cop’s Wife’s Restaurant & Later Died. No Charges Were Filed
His wife’s restaurant was the scene of a fatal beating a St. Paul man. No one was ever charged in that case. Others had come forward to police to say that they too had been attacked by bouncers at the restaurant.
From reports, the family of Nicholas James Keilen, then-34, said their son died after he was beaten by bouncers at the Cha’s restaurant and bar. The family obtained surveillance footage that showed “a man kick Keilen and swing a baton at him outside the bar. A security guard appears to spray something toward Keilen. Keilen had told his father that a guard pepper-sprayed him the night he was assaulted, and his father said he could smell the spray on his clothes. The video ends as Keilen backs away into the street and out of the frame.”
Within a week, Keilen “was dying,” a lawyer for the family said.
No charges were ever filed.
It was also reported that on at least three occasions, in 2011, 2013, and 2014. People had reported being assaulted by bouncers at the Cha family bar and one said Cha “pepper-sprayed them.”
Reports Say the Restaurant Owned by Cha’s Wife & Where He Works, is the Site of the 2018 Beating Witnessed by 5 St. Paul Cops Who Did Nothing to Stop it
At least three Minneapolis-based media outlets have reported that the incident that St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said he cannot talk about, the incident that led to him firing five of his officers occurred at the same restaurant.
A man was beaten with first and a baton wielded allegedly by Cha, as prosecutors have charged. What is new is that Axtell, without specifically describing the incident or naming the cops, described how five officers responded to a scene and then backed off and did not intervene while a vicious assault took place. It’s alleged that a bouncer was punching a man on the ground and that Cha allegedly wielded a baton and struck the man.
The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported:
“Last June 17, there was a gathering of family members at Checkerboard Pizza at Arcade Street and Jenks Avenue and a fight broke out. Police dispersed the crowd, according to the criminal complaint charging Tou Cha, 50, with felony assault.
“One of the responding squad cars left the immediate area but parked, with its lights off, across the street,” the complaint said. “Another fight broke out and, as the squad car approached the crowd, the video recording system in the squad car captured a male down on all fours.”
One male was using his fists to hit the man on the ground. Another man, later identified as Tou Cha, “swung a baton over his head and brought the baton down on (the man), who was completely defenseless,” the complaint continued.
“Apparently noticing the approaching squad car, Tou Cha and the other male moved away, as members of the crowd moved in to help” the injured man, according to the complaint.
The man was taken to the hospital and treated for a concussion.
He had two “significant” cuts to his head from separate blows — one required seven staples to close and the other 17 staples, the complaint said. He reported that he was on the sidewalk when Tou Cha pepper-sprayed him, and then struck him with a baton.”
They were fired Thursday morning.
Axtell did not name the cops. He did not cite the specific incident in the summer of 2018 citing state privacy laws. But local media quickly put two and two together.
The officers, who union reps have vowed to see cleared or reinstated, are, KTSP reported, the “officers terminated Wednesday have been identified as Nicholas Grandei, Robert Luna, Christopher Rhoades, Nathan Smith and Jordan Wild.”