61.1 F
Los Angeles
Thursday, June 13, 2024

[Special editorial] We demand the truth of Yong Yang’s death

Must read

- Advertisement -

Two weeks after the shooting death of Yong Yang, there is still little progress in disclosing the truth about Yang’s death. Only the identity of the officer who opened fire on Yang has been released.

Meanwhile, more evidence has emerged indicating that the police did not follow procedures and regulations. Yang was shot four times by police as he was being prepared to be transported to a hospital for psychiatric care.

The explanation that the police were forced to shoot because he was carrying a weapon is not convincing. It doesn’t make sense that nine armed officers would open fire because they couldn’t handle one patient. Why did they shoot first, as if they were trying to capture an armed terrorist, when they could have tried to talk him down or retreated first? Why didn’t they call for medical help immediately after the shooting? Why didn’t they preserve the incident scene as if they tried to destroy evidence? The entire LAPD’s credibility is at stake.

The use of firearms by police is a citizen-granted power. As such, there are strict limits on their use of firearms. This is to prevent innocent people from being killed in the name of law enforcement, so officers must be vetted for compliance. Any violations should be met with zero-tolerance punishment.

If the LAPD puts the blame for the shooting on Yang and tries to use evasive tactics to blame one officer for overreacting, it will face intense public outrage. In this case, it is hard to regard the police shooting as justifiable law enforcement to protect innocent citizens. We may call it police brutality as officers caused pain to innocent citizens.

The officers’ body cam footage is the best way to disclose what happened at the time. The police should release this immediately and in its entirety without editing. The officers’ communications should also be investigated to help uncover the truth. To that end, we filed a request for public records with the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD on May 10.

The progress of the investigation should be publicly available. Delays or withholding information because it is “under investigation” will only increase suspicion. It will also change the way the Korean-American community views the police.

Truth-seeking should not be limited to the verification of who fired, why, and how many shots. Nor should it be limited to identifying individual faults and responsibilities. The truth we want includes the structures and systems that support police routine brutality. We need to identify and fix them one by one.

The reality is that this is not easy. Bureaucracy, powerful unions, and more may stand in the way of the LAPD’s self-remedy. Still, it’s something that needs to be done, even if it takes time, even if it takes a third party.

LA Mayor Karen Bass has belatedly called for a “transparent and thorough investigation.” The Korean-American community will be following the investigation closely. This is not just because a Korean was killed. After the killing of George Floyd in 2020, many Koreans joined the protests against police brutality but distanced themselves from calls for police downsizing or defunding. We did not want abusive police. We wanted righteous police, and we still do.

We can’t treat this incident as an individual tragedy. We can’t see the same tragedy repeat again and again. It has to change. Now is different from the past, when people had no recourse even if they were wronged. If we work together, we can change what needs to be changed. Unfortunately, most Korean-American politicians who normally seek the support of Korean Americans remain silent. We need the will and solidarity of the Korean community as a rock. In that sense, we need to shout together: I am Yong Yang, we are Yong Yang.