Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | police brutality
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The family of Fong Lee, a Minneapolis Hmong teenager who was killed in 2006, is holding a press conference and rally this weekend to announce they're taking the fight for justice to theSupreme Court of the United States. They say that Lee, who was 19 years old when he was shot by a Minneapolis Police Department officer, was wrongfully killed when he was riding his bike with some friends. Lee was shot eight times -- five after he was already down on the ground. The MPD claims Fong was selling drugs near an elementary school and pulled a gun on the cops. The officer, Jason Andersen, a rookie at the time, was later accused of unnecessary force in another case, and has been fired twice from the MPD. An all-white jury found that Andersen didn't use excessive force, and the family appeal was denied. So now Lee's family is taking their wrongful death case to the Supreme Court. Fong Lee was sot 8 times by the Minneapolis Police DepartmentThere are a lot of hinky elements to this story. The family claims the police planted the gun, which was in the possession of police from an earlier robbery. There are clips of surveillance video at the school, which shows Andersen in pursuit of Fong, and Fong doesn't appear to have a gun. The shooting happened out of the camera's range. There are no fingerprints on the gun. The large Twin Cities Hmong community is understandably upset and rallying behind the Lee family, and even the media are questioning the official version of the killing. This will be a SCOTUS case to follow. Thanks to Slanty at Slant Eye for the Round Eye, who lives in Minneapolis and wants to bring the case some national attention. If you're in the Minneapolis area, you should try to make the announcement and rally on Saturday. It's being held at 2 pm at the elementary school where Fong Lee was killed: Cityview Elementary School, 3350 North 4th Street, Minneapolis. Here's the full text of the press release announcing the rally:

San Jose Police shoulder patchThe San Jose Mercury News, which broke the story several weeks ago of a video that shows San Jose police may have used unnecessary force when officers arrested a San Jose State University student, is now under a darkening cloud of questions about the batons and Taser used to subdue Phuong Ho. The Mercury News today published a follow-up article with an enhanced version of the cell-phone video that had been shot by a roommate with clearer sound, which shows Ho compliant, crying and repeatedly asking for his glasses, which had been knocked off by an officer. The Mercury News article says:
All four officers on the scene were placed on administrative leave last month on the day the grainy video, provided to the Mercury News by Ho's lawyer, first was posted on the newspaper's Web site. The department has completed an investigation into the incident and turned over its results to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, which is deciding whether to file criminal charges against the officers. Charges that the office brought against Ho in September, for brandishing a weapon at another roommate and resisting arrest, are pending. Meanwhile on Wednesday, Mayor Chuck Reed called on a City Council committee to step up outside review of the department's use of force. The mayor's recommendation comes after continuing controversy over the issue. The Mercury News reported Nov. 1 that a study of more than 200 criminal prosecutions of resisting arrest last year showed that the police use of force in such instances often developed from minor infractions, including jaywalking and missing bike head lamps. Most of those cases involve people of color, the newspaper review found.
I'll let the legal system and City Council review run its course, but I agree with the Mercury News' editorials, which called for, and now applaud the review of the cops' use of force. Just listening to the audio and reading the transcripts gave me a queasy feeling in my gut, not just because Ho is Asian, but also because for most of my life, I was virtually blind without my glasses, and I know the feeling of desperation and panic that I can hear clearly in Ho's voice when he keeps asking for his glasses. You can read the full transcript of the enhanced video. Here's an excerpt: