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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Outrage erupts as mistrial declared for brutal assault on Korean American senior

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The surveillance video shows a Black robber assaulting Chang Suh, a 69-year-old Korean American jewelry store owner, on September 15, 2022. [Screenshot from the video]

A jury trial has ended in a hung jury, or mistrial, for a Black man who carried out a robbery and assault on an elderly Korean American jewelry store owner in Wilmington, Delaware, sparking outrage in the local and Korean American community.

The victim, Chang Suh, 69, was attacked and knocked to the ground by a Black robber, Calvin Ushery, 40, who entered Suh’s Solid Gold jewelry store on September 15, 2022. Ushery approached Suh as if to ask him a question, punched him in the face with a pistol, knocked him to the ground, and assaulted him 28 times.

Surveillance video shows Suh being stomped on and struck in the head at least a dozen times – twice with a hammer. The video of the assault was broadcast on TV and online, shocking the nation.

Ushery, who fled with $100,000 worth of jewelry and attempted to sell them, was apprehended a week later by the police and brought to trial.

Ushery, who underwent a jury trial last year on charges including robbery and felony assault, was facing a total of 107 years in prison if convicted. The court declared a mistrial on September 19 shortly after the relatively short two-day jury deliberations. The reason given was that the jury could not reach a unanimous guilty verdict. The exact split of jurors is unclear.

Citizens, who were horrified by the brutal assault, criticized the court for its inaction. Family members appealed for justice in interviews with local television.

The victim’s son, David Suh, an Iraq war veteran, expressed outrage at the time of the incident, saying, “How can you assault a senior like this unless you are racially biased or filled with hate?”

The victim, Suh, underwent surgery last year for excessive bleeding and brain damage and is reportedly still unable to walk properly a year later. Suh was so badly beaten that he is still undergoing rehabilitation.

The Korean American community’s opinion was furious. Some citizens commented on the story on X (formerly Twitter), saying things like, “Is it possible to assault someone like this unless he has a hatred against Asians?” “This person should be incarcerated forever,” and “Are the jurors blind and deaf? How can they not agree on a guilty verdict when everything is on video?” Some wrote, “I wonder how many Black jurors there are” and “This is why I don’t trust jury trials.” When the news broke on major Korean American sites, people wrote, “This goes too far,” and “Are they insane?”

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Wilmington, Delaware, plan to request a new trial by amending the charges.

BY BRIAN CHOI   [ichoi@koreadaily.com]