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South Bay | Police State and Prisons

Man shot and killed by San Jose cops this weekend
by Mercury News (repost)
Monday Jan 24th, 2005 9:47 AM
The incident is the second fatal shooting of a Vietnamese-American by San Jose police in 18 months.



Posted on Mon, Jan. 24, 2005

Man shot by cop identified as Vietnamese-American

S.J. NEIGHBORS DESCRIBE WATCHING FROM WINDOWS AS FATAL STANDOFF UNFOLDED

By Connie Skipitares

Mercury News

San Jose police on Sunday identified the man who was shot and killed by an officer early Saturday as Hai Nguyen, 22.

Nguyen held police at bay at his home for 2 1/2 hours before allegedly pointing a gun at them, prompting an officer to open fire. A single gunshot to his chest killed him instantly as he stood just inside his open garage about 1:35 a.m. The officer was identified as Richard Foster, a 12-year veteran of the department and a canine officer.

Foster was placed on routine administrative leave as the investigation into the incident continues.

A police crisis team tried to negotiate with Nguyen by phone as he holed up inside his home on Packing Place at East San Antonio Road, and later by bullhorn after Nguyen opened his garage door. Nguyen's stepmother had called police after coming home about 11 p.m. Friday and hearing what she thought were shots being fired inside.

The incident is the second fatal shooting of a Vietnamese-American by San Jose police in 18 months. In July 2003, an officer shot and killed 25-year-old Bich Cau Thi Tran in her kitchen as she held up an Asian vegetable peeler that police thought was a cleaver.

The case was highly charged and galvanized San Jose's Vietnamese-American community, which held vigils and marches to call the public's attention to the incident. It also sparked formation of a community-based organization called the Coalition for Justice and Accountability.

On Sunday, coalition member Rick Callender said he did not know details of the shooting but planned to contact San Jose police today to find out more.

Neighbors who witnessed part of the tense late-night drama as they peeked through closed shutters said Nguyen held a handgun throughout the standoff, sometimes keeping it at his side, but at other times waving it wildly over his head. Police said he was very agitated as he spoke with them, but they did not say why he was disturbed.

``He seemed really upset and the way he was waving the gun, I thought he was going to end up shooting himself,'' said Dennis Ofalla, 34, an across-the-street neighbor of the Nguyens' who saw the incident from an upstairs window. ``I kept hearing police say to him `Put the gun down and come out and talk to us. Talk to your father.' ''

Ofalla was not watching at the moment Nguyen was shot, but when he heard the shot he ran to his window and saw Nguyen fall inside his garage. ``I really hoped it would end differently,'' he said. ``I saw the police dogs, and I thought maybe they could have used a dog to get him to put down the gun.''

Another neighbor tending her garden three doors down from the Nguyen home said the young man was pleasant and mild-mannered and always waved to her when he saw her in her front yard.

``I can't believe such a nice young man would have a reason to have a gun and to act like that,'' said Mila Corpus, a 52-year-old nurse. ``He worked with his father at the family's convenience store. They were together all the time, so this is sad.''

Nguyen lived with his father and stepmother at the Packing Place home, police said. No one answered the door there Sunday.
Contact Connie Skipitares at cskipitares [at] mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5647.