San Jose, CA-  Four San Jose police officers are on paid leave for the beating and tasing of an unarmed Vietnamese man. Officers Kenneth Seigel, Steven Payne Jr., Jerome Smith, and Gabriel Reyes were involved in a brutality incident against 20 year old student Phuong Ho, all of which was caught on cell phone video by a fellow roommate of Ho’s. Ho was beaten with a baton by officer Seigel, and tased by officer Payne. Reports show that the officers were called out to the residence of Ho and his roommate Jeremy Suftin on September 3, who were having a domestic disturbance. It is still unclear on what exactly the altercation between Ho and Suftin manifested over, Ho was angry over Suftin pouring soap over his steak, in retaliation Ho grabbed a steak knife and threatened his roommate saying “In Vietnam I would kill you for this”. The threat made by Ho to his roommate came with mixed opinion some fellow students of San Jose State University laughed about it, Suftin on the other hand took the threat very seriously and felt the need to call the authorities.

By the time authorities arrived, Ho was unarmed. Officers report that Ho was combative and unwilling to cooperate with general, direct orders to stand in the hallway so that they may identify him. When Ho refused to follow officers orders, officer Payne restrained Ho so that he could be detained in handcuffs. The video recorded by the fellow student of San Jose State shows a dozen or more hits to Ho with a baton, as well as the use of a Taser gun that some view as extreme force. Police Chief Rob Davis stated in a telephone interview that “Department philosophy is to use the lowest level of force needed, so clearly when I see that video I have concerns.”  Davis also stated that what happened before the video was recorded is key to knowing whether such force was justified, if it is proven to be justified then they will decide if the force seen in the video was excessive.

Reports also state that Ho can be heard crying and moaning while on the ground during the beating. The video is said to show that Ho had been in handcuffs before the final blow from the baton was administered against him. Experts find it very disturbing that after he was handcuffed officers continued to brutalize him. The San Jose police department is taking this very seriously, while it was not stated in the report of police brutality in San Jose’s history, Davis said that they are trying to find a solution to concerns off police brutality. They are implementing a pilot program which consists of a group of officers wearing recording devices to keep an eye on officers on the streets. The San Jose investigators are investigating this with an open mind, City Councilman Sam Liccardo stated ” Our restraint from prejudging the situation shouldn’t make Phuong Ho’s cries of pain any less disturbing to our collective conscience.” That statement coming from reports of San Jose police chief and the mayor strongly supporting the rights of the officers.

San Jose police department is clearly taking this seriously, respecting all views and keeping peace amongst the community while trying to iron out the actions of their very own officers. Whatever the outcome may be regarding whether excessive force was used against Ho, or that the officers are justified in the manner of which they chose to restrain him. There is always a consequence for every action, it is now in the hands of San Jose investigators to decide whether the men they work with are guilty of a horrendous brutality case against an unarmed man, or if the men they work with had validity to use such force against the perpetrator of this case. There are many bad people in this nation, at times what seems to be brutally excessive may in fact be the only option left for an officer to enforce. On the other hand there are innocent people out there put into extreme situations that they themselves would normally not be involved in. Innocent men who find themselves in situations like the one Phuong found himself embroiled in. Is he a victim of police brutality or a violent criminal who gave officers no other choice then what we see in the video?

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