Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | unnecessary force
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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: