Excessive Force: Phuong Ho And The San Jose Police

Monday, October 26, 2009

The above is a video taken from a phone camera (released last week) after police came to the house of Phuong Ho and if you watch the video - and listen carefully - you'll not only see Phuong Ho getting beaten by the police - but you'll also here his screams, his crying - his pleading.

What happened earlier last month was this:

The incident occurred after a Sept. 3 encounter between Ho and roommate Jeremy Suftin that began when Suftin slopped soap on Ho's dinner steak. The two scuffled, and Ho picked up a steak knife, saying that in Vietnam, "I would kill you for this." At least some roommates laughed at the comment, as shown on a videotape of that portion of the incident. But Suftin said he took it seriously, and the police were called. At least four officers responded.

According to police reports obtained by the Mercury News, officer Kenneth Siegel could not understand Ho's accent when he confronted him in a hallway and asked his name. Ho then ignored a command to stand still after officers entered his room to check his wallet for identification.

When Ho tried to follow Siegel into his room, officer Steven Payne Jr. attempted to handcuff Ho. According to his report, Payne pushed Ho into a wall and then forced him to the hallway floor when Ho resisted being handcuffed. Ho said his glasses fell off then, and as he attempted to pick them up, the officers struck him.
Out of six experts that saw the video - even though shaky and not at a high resolution - four of them said it raised serious concerns - as it should - and one expert even went so far as to say that it took him back to the day he saw the Rodney King video on T.V.

I've Heard That Voice Before

I don't have to be an expert to tell you that the voice you hear in the video - the cop shouting at Ho - is the voice of an out of control person - someone who just snapped. If you've ever been in a situation where you've been cornered and you have nowhere to run - you know what I'm talking about. If you've ever heard that hint - that start of that voice - you know you don't want to be there. And if it's from an officer of the law - someone who's supposed to bring a situation down - not escalate it - you know the bravado and the entitlement - and you know you don't want to get caught into it because you probably won't win.

I've Heard That Other Voice Too

Like I said at the beginning of this post - when you watch the video - you can't help but notice a few things including the sound of handcuffs, Ho on the ground, and that one final baton strike - and I don't get it - I don't understand people who want to keep on beating my people down when it's clear they're not a threat.

Don't Know About You But I Can Understand Him Pretty Damn Well

It's funny to me that the officers in their report said how they couldn't really understand Ho because of is "thick accent" - and while I'll give it up that if you don't hear different languages, or anyone with an accent - ever - maybe it might be tougher for you - but gimme a break. Watch the video of Ho describing what happened down at the Mercury News (the second video) and tell me, even if you imagine him talking fast, that you wouldn't be able to understand him.

It's Tough To Turn Over When You're Getting The Shit Kicked Out Of You

Just a quick FYI. If you've been in the unfortunate position of being on the ground while someone's kicking your ass - you can't always just snap to their commands right away.

Like "Get on your stomach".

If you're getting your ass pounded - repeatedly - you don't really know what to do until it stops. You might eventually get on your stomach - but - it might take a moment.

In part because you're getting your ass kicked.

That command works better when you stop beating the shit out of someone by at least taking a breather and at the same time - if you're getting your ass kicked and you're getting a command to do something or to move your body in a different way - the first thing that really comes to your mind is "How much more am I going to get my ass kicked if I do that".

Bottom Line

These cops don't deserve their badges. They have no right to protect and serve. They saw Phuong as being something less than human.

And they treated him like it.

--Thanks for sending this in David