justice for mike cho

We've been following along with the case of Michael Cho, who was shot to death by La Habra police on New Year's Eve. Despite protests and calls for a thorough investigation from concerned community members, police have yet to provide satisfactory answers about Michael's death. Too many details about the shooting just don't hadd up. Here's a letter that I received from one of Michael's concerned friends, with links to articles, petitions, and information regarding upcoming vigils:
Hello Everyone,

My friend, Michael S. Cho was shot and killed on December 31, 2007 at around 2:00 PM by two La Habra, CA police officers. The police officers said that they were responding to a vandalism call but showed up with guns drawn. A surveillance video shows Michael walking slowly towards the police officers and slowly walking away. He was shot after he had walked away. The two La Habra police officers shot Michael over 10 times. The La Habra police chief, Dennis Kies, said that Michael had a tire iron and that the police officers shot at Michael because he had made a "motion to attack" the officers.

You can read about the incident here:

And watch the surveillance video here:

I do not know if or why Michael had a tire iron. Unfortunately, the only person who can answer that is no longer with us. I do know, however, what kind of person Michael was. He attended church regularly. He was the kind of friend you knew you could always depend on, someone who always had other people's best interests at heart. His soul was kind and he was always good-natured. I also know that he was born with a leg disability that caused him to walk with a limp. I know that if I (at 5'2" on a good day) wanted to get away from Michael, all I would have to do is walk fast. The La Habra police department is saying that Michael was shot because he made a "motion to attack," but how can he attack if he can't run or walk properly? Why did the cops show up to a vandalism call with guns drawn? Was it necessary to shoot to kill? Why was it necessary to shoot at all when there are Tasers, bean bags and pepper spray?

I cannot fully express how I feel about all this. I am deeply saddened to say the least. I still cannot believe that Mike, a beautiful person who taught blind and disabled children art and art history and who is always the first person to buy a homeless man a meal, has been taken away from us. I will not pretend to know and understand all the legalities with force used by police officers, but it has felt wrong, excessive, unwarranted to me since I first heard about the shooting. I attended a community seminar put on by Korean Community Lawyers Association where former Commander Paul Kim, who was on the board that reviews LAPD's use of force, analyzed the cops' actions and confirmed my suspicions. Though he is now retired, he has reviewed thousands of these cases and is very experienced and familiar with police use of force laws and regulations.

Please help my friend, Michael Cho, not become just another statistic by forwarding this email to your friends, signing the petition and showing up to the vigil(s). I know I'm asking a lot but this is such an important matter. It's not just a Korean American or Asian American issue; it is a Human issue.

How You Can Help:

Sign the petition asking the Dept. of Justice for a federal investigation: http://www.petitiononline.com/mikecho/petition.html

Attend the La Habra vigil held in front of and at the same time as the next La Habra city council meeting:
Tuesday, February 19th, 5:30 PM
201 E. La Habra Blvd. (cross street S. Euclid St.)
La Habra, CA 90631

There will also be a UCLA campus vigil:
Thursday, February 28th, 7-10 PM
UCLA Bruin Plaza
308 Westwood Plz.
Los Angeles, CA 90024

We need as many people as possible to show up to the vigils (especially the La Habra one) because we need to make the La Habra City Council aware that the community is concerned by the questionable circumstances under which Michael was killed and that the community is seeking answers through the means of a speedy and bias-free federal investigation.

If you would like to be added to the mailing list to receive updates on Michael Cho's shooting, please join here:

Contact email address: justiceformikecho@gmail.com

One more thing! If you know any media people, please send them our way.

Thank you for reading,
Sheena Chou
To recap... For updates on this case, visit Justice For Mike Cho. Also, sign the online petition to the United States Department of Justice here. And if you're in Southern California, please consider attending the vigil in La Habra on February 19, and the vigil at UCLA on February 28. Mike's friends and family deserve answers, and the police need to be held properly accountable for their actions.

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