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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Korean-American community outraged by LAPD’s justification of Yong Yang’s shooting

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Amidst criticism of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for the shooting death of Yong Yang (40), a Korean national, the LAPD has defended the shooting.

This stance appears to overlook the Korean-American community’s view that the actions of the seven officers, who shot a mentally ill patient, were not only an abuse of power but also a violation of the law. This situation raises the possibility of a confrontation between the Korean-American community and the police.

A senior LAPD official, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Korea Daily on May 8, “Unfortunately, as far as I understand, Yang came toward the police with a knife, which was an evident threat to the police. The investigation is still ongoing, but it would be difficult to find any wrongdoing on the part of the police in this case.”

When asked why the officers didn’t use a non-lethal weapon on the patient, he argued, “If it was a sudden attack, there was nothing to do.” He also noted cultural differences, saying, “The police response in the U.S. is different from Korea, where there are no guns. If you look at the U.S. police response from a Korean cultural perspective, there are many problems.”

Min Yang (left) is listening to Olympic Police Captain Aaron Ponce (right) near the scene of the shooting. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]

This aligns with the logic of the LAPD’s initial statement, which sought to attribute the shooting to Yang. However, family members of the deceased claim that the LAPD’s statements and explanations are not factually accurate.

Meanwhile, Olympic Police Captain Aaron Ponce, who attended a Parents’ Day event at the Koreatown Senior and Community Center on May 7, also avoided specific answers to reporters’ questions about Yang’s case and provided only a general statement.

Ponce stated that the LAPD’s Force Investigation Division (FID) is still conducting its investigation. He added that the LAPD Chief is updated on the investigation’s status within 72 hours of an incident, and he will receive his briefing on May 9.

Ponce also noted that this incident is not being investigated by the Olympic Police Department itself, but by departments specializing in internal affairs, such as the FID. He mentioned that he cannot comment on the details of the case because it is still under investigation.

He also said he could not disclose the identities of the seven officers who responded to the incident. However, he did mention that the body cam footage of the responding officers would be released within 45 days of the incident.

When asked about support to the family of the deceased, Captain Ponce said, “A Family Liaison was on the scene to help and coordinate communication between the police and the family.” Contrary to his statement, the family said they had not been informed about the status of the investigation.

“The LAPD actually restricted our contact with the media and refused to give us any information about my son’s death,” said Min Yang, the deceased’s father. “Even after the incident, we haven’t heard anything about the progress of the investigation.”

BY SUAH JANG, KYEONGJUN KIM, JUNHAN PARK
[jang.suah@koreadaily.com, kim.kyeongjun1@koreadaily.com]