After accusations that a San Jose police officer used excessive force when he fatally shot a Vietnamese immigrant last week, police have taken their case to Vietnamese-language radio and newspapers to stem growing tensions in the Asian community, the Los Angeles Times reports. The public relations campaign expresses the department’s condolences to the family of Cau Tran, a 25-year-old mother of two who died July 13 from a gunshot wound to the chest in the kitchen of her home. Tran allegedly threatened two officers with a vegetable peeler. Both sides say the case demonstrates long-standing cultural misunderstandings between the 1,400-officer department and a 100,000-member Vietnamese community that is the nation’s second-largest, after Little Saigon in Orange County.
After last week’s emotional march to City Hall and police headquarters by more than 150 sympathizers, Vietnamese community members planned to meet tonight with Police Chief William Lansdowne and the city’s Human Relations Committee. Lansdowne has apologized for the shooting.
Community members contend that there are too few Vietnamese-speaking officers in San Jose and that the department has exaggerated the threat posed by the 90-pound Tran. Police identified the implement wielded by the woman as a “cleaver.” Vietnamese residents say the peeler, or dao bao, is a bladed device found in many homes.
The department launched its public relations move after the Santa Clara County district attorney pledged to take the unusual step of impaneling an open grand jury to look into the shooting.