Tao is a detective on the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) Priority Homicide Department, formerly a member of the LAPD's Scientific Investigation Division (SID).
Intelligent and well-educated, Tao is a talented expert in all forms of technology, computers and electronics. He sometimes baffles the other detectives, Provenza and Flynn, especially, when discussing technology. Tao, of Chinese ancestry, has a Japanese wife (portrayed by Patti Yasutake), and a 16-year-old son, Kevin. Tao speaks some Japanese, but he can neither read nor speak Chinese.
While he was on vacation in Hawaii in season 2, Gabriel was providing information on a case to the squad and was describing grass wherein an altercation took place. Because he was trying to "accurately" describe the grass and was coming off a little geeky, one of his squad-mates pointed out that he must be "channeling Tao from Hawaii."
Tao enjoys snacks while on duty, and he frequently offers these to Deputy Chief Johnson even though Johnson is trying to cut back on her snacking. In one episode wherein Johnson was getting somewhat emotional about a case, Tao gives her two éclairs wrapped in tissue to try to calm her down, saying, "Please, for all our sakes."
Tao is formerly of the Los Angeles Police Departments Scientific Investigation Division. He was promoted to lieutenant and reassigned to the newly created Priority Homicide Squad. It has been revealed Tao attended one year of medical school, allowing him to provide the team with some medical expertise. He had originally wanted to be a doctor but realized that doctors spent more time protecting themselves than others so he quit medical school and joined the LAPD who protects each other. During the Major Crimes episode Open Line, Tao is forced to fatally shoot a suspect, something that clearly affects him greatly.