La Habra Settles Suit by Family of Michael Cho, Victim of Brutality or Justified Police Shooting
Cho's death sparked outcries of police brutality in the Korean American community and from his friends at UCLA. JusticeForMikeCho.com and the Stop Police Brutality--Remember Michael Cho Facebook page were launched in 2008.
"This senseless act reeks of injustice and we can not sit back idly and accept this situation as it has passed," reads a sort of mission statement on the sites, which points the public to an online petition demanding a federal investigation into the shooting. The Orange County District Attorney's Office had previously cleared the La Habra cops of wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, a second civil suit was headed for trial on Tuesday. A mistrial was declared in February when an eight-member jury could not reach a unanimous decision. Their last vote was 5-3 in favor of officers John Jaime and Pete DiPasqua. Jaime remains on the force but DiPasqua retired before that first trial.
The Orange County Register has the scoop.
Police received a call on Dec. 31, 2007, that a man was vandalizing cars outside a liquor store near Whittier Boulevard and Walnut Avenue. The caller pointed out Cho as the man responsible, according to police, who claim he approached Jaime and DiPasqua with a tire iron. The cop agency further alleged that Cho refused repeated commands to drop the object before the pair fired.
But the Cho family's attorneys contend the young man was far enough away from the officers that he could have been stopped with non-lethal force through the use of a Taser, pepper spray or the police dog that was in Jaime's patrol car.
Attorneys for both sides pointed to the same reason for the settlement: no one wanted to go through an emotional trial again. The respective counsels did get in their final digs via the Register.
"We feel that we prevailed in the first trial and my officers got satisfaction from that verdict ... they felt vindicated by the jury," La Habra's attorney Bruce Praet is reported to have said.
"Listening to testimony about the unjustified and reckless shooting of their son certainly took a major toll on Michael's parents," Cho attorney Shelley Kaufman apparently wrote in an e-mail to the daily.
The $250,000 is to be paid to Honglan and Sungman Cho, who plan to use the money to create a memorial to their fallen son.