Feb 24, 2008
LA HABRA, Calif. — On the afternoon of December 31, 2007, two police officers encountered Michael Cho in the parking lot of a liquor store in La Habra, a small, generally quiet city in Orange County, California. It didn’t take long for the meeting to go bad. After less than a minute the officers unleashed a barrage of bullets on the 25-year-old artist, ending his life - and setting off an ongoing cascade of protests across Southern California’s Korean American community.
Computerized police logs obtained by New America Media suggest the officers quickly turned to deadly force when they confronted Cho, whom they suspected of vandalism. According to the Computer Automated Transcript documenting the incident, at 2:04 p.m. the cops contacted their dispatcher to say they’d located Cho. “Out with the subject near the liquor store,” the transcript reads. Just 41 seconds later they radioed dispatch again, this time saying they’d shot the suspect and now needed paramedics to attend to him. “Shot fired, Suspect down, Medics requested,” reads the transcript. In the aftermath of the killing, Cho’s family has publicly condemned the department, saying the officers rushed to shoot Cho, rather than using less lethal tools like pepper spray or Taser stun guns to subdue him.
“The police killed my son like a dog,” Cho’s mother, Honglan Cho, recently told the La Habra City Council. According to Shelly Lynn Kaufman, an attorney for the Cho family, the fusillade of bullets left ten holes in his body.