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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Another Tragedy: Five security guards pin Korean-American man to death

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Casino security guards cornered an unarmed Korean man with mental illness in a parking lot, then pinned him to the ground and handcuffed him, ultimately causing his death by kneeling on him.

Shocked by the incident, the man’s sister took her own life, and the family is currently engaged in a legal battle against the casino.

According to the LA County Superior Court, the man’s parents, Jung Sik Jung and Insoon Jung, and his brother-in-law, Phillip Tirman, have filed a lawsuit against the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens, citing wrongful death, assault, battery, and negligent hiring, supervision, and training.

 

The plaintiffs’ attorneys, Indira J. Cameron-Banks and Terrence M. Jones, officially filed the third amended complaint on January 29, 2024. The court plans to proceed with the trial next week after the jury selection process is complete.

The incident occurred on July 24, 2021, around 3:57 p.m. in the Bicycle Casino parking lot.

According to CCTV footage released by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, five casino security guards tackled Jonathan Jung, then 45, to the ground in the parking lot and knelt on him while he was lying face down. They then bent his legs backward, restrained him, and handcuffed him.

The security guards pinned Jung for about three minutes. During this time, Jung vomited and lost consciousness due to difficulty breathing, and he soon died.

The plaintiffs stated in the lawsuit, “As a result of the excessive and unnecessary force, detention, and other actions by the security guards, Jung died on the asphalt,” adding, “Jung complied with the casino’s request to leave the premises, but the security guards continued to chase, threaten, and assault him even outside the building.”

The video shows the five security guards chasing Jung for about five minutes as if they were hunting prey.

The video released by the plaintiff’s legal team vividly shows five security guards pinning down Jonathan Jung. The red mark in the photo indicates the specific angle and position of the security guard’s knee pressing on Jung’s upper body. [Provided by the law firm Cameron | Jones LLP]
Despite leaving the casino, Jung, who had bipolar disorder, looked back several times as the security guards continued to pursue him, hastening his steps.

Feeling threatened and psychologically distressed, Jung even attempted to seek help from a driver and tried to get into the vehicle, as captured in the footage.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed, “Jung was only verbally disruptive while playing games at the casino and did not physically assault or make any contact with other patrons or employees,” adding, “Furthermore, Jung had already exited the building as requested by the casino and was returning to his car, so there was no reason to chase him down as if trapping him.”

Jung was eventually cornered in a section of the parking lot blocked on all sides by barbed wire.

The footage shows a security guard pushing Jung to the ground as he tried to flee, and then five guards simultaneously piled on top of him. About three minutes later, after Jung had stopped moving, the guards finally flipped him over, but it was too late.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys stated, “Despite the casino’s legal duty of care toward its customers, it failed to contact law enforcement or mental-health services to communicate more effectively with Jung,” adding, “The lack of proper training and supervision of security guards led to Jung, who had mental-health issues, being placed in greater danger, fear, and ultimately his death.”

Jung was the son of Jung Sik Jung, a missionary working in Ukraine. The shock of the incident caused his sister, Vanessa Jung, 44, to take her own life in August last year, and his mother’s dementia symptoms have worsened.

Phillip Tirman, Vanessa Jung’s husband, filed a separate lawsuit against the Bicycle Casino in September last year, holding it responsible for his wife’s death.

Tirman is currently a practicing doctor, and the late Vanessa Jung was a psychologist.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has an advisory board to oversee legal matters involving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The board is monitoring the trial’s outcome.

Esther Lim, an advisor with this board, stated, “This incident is simply outrageous,” adding, “The Korean-American community needs to be fully aware of this incident, and we must collectively raise our voices for justice in response to such a tragic death.”

BY YEOL JANG, MOOYOUNG LEE  [jang.yeol@koreadaily.com]