The City Council of San Jose on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a $225,000 settlement with Phuong Quang Ho, a Vietnamese exchange student who was repeatedly beaten by a policeman in videotaped incident that made the news from California all the way to the student’s home country.
The tentative settlement had been announced earlier and the Council vote was the last administrative step needed for the settlement to be signed.
The agreement avoids a jury trial, and calls for the City of San Jose to pay Phuong Ho $225,000, plus implement 80 hours of community outreach over two years.
The settlement was recommended by the City Attorney’s office in a memo to the City Council.
The beating took place on September 3, 2009, when San Jose police officers came to Ho’s apartment in response to a 9-1-1 call, reporting that Ho had pulled a knife on his roommate.
Ho said he was only joking, with the knife that he was eating dinner with.
Upon arrival, the officers were informed that Plaintiff Ho had made threats against another roommate while holding a knife. The police were also informed Plaintiff no longer had the knife and was in his bedroom.
When the officers met Ho in the hallway, they told him to stay in place while they investigated.
But Ho didn’t stay in place and followed the cop into his bedroom.
Another officer again told Ho to stop, but Ho didn’t.
At that point, the second officer attempted to grab Ho’s arm, but Ho pulled away. The first officer also attempted to control Ho, who continued to struggle. The police slammed Ho to the floor, they told him to turn over and put his hands behind his back – but he kept struggling.
That was when one officer struck Ho with a baton approximately 13 times. At one point, the second officer used a Taser – in the “drive stun” mode, according to the City Attorney’s memo.
Ho said he wasn’t struggling; he was only trying to get hold of his glasses which fell on the floor when he was taken down.
One of Ho’s roommates captured part of the arrest on his cell phone video camera, and that’s the video that was spread throughout the web.
Ho was charged with two misdemeanor counts arising out of his knife wielding conduct. Those charges, however, were dropped after the D.A. investigated thoroughly. The D.A. also thought the use of force by the police was not unreasonable. According to the City Attorney, the D.A. “hired three experts in the use of force by police. Two of the experts determined that the force used by the officers was reasonable, while one concluded that the force used was excess.”
Ho graduated San Jose State University last month and is planning to enroll in the master’s program at that university in the Fall.