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Vietnamese Americans File Brutality Suit

December 2, 1994. AsianWeek, pg. 4

NEW YORK -- A federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the police planted a knife on Dat Nguyen, a 24-year-old Vietnamese student as a coverup for police brutality and abuse of power was served on the city of New York today by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

On Nov. 9, 1993, Dat Nguyen attempted to enter a public bathroom in Manhattan's Chinatown when he was confronted by two plainclothes police officers. The officers did not identify themselves and refused to permit Mr. Nguyen to use the bathroom.

When Mr. Nguyen challenged their authority, Detective Michael Hernandez responded by striking him several times on the head with his walkie talkie rendering him unconscious. Mr. Nguyen was hospitalized and received multiple stitches to three parts of his head, resulting in permanent scarring.

As a coverup for the police brutality, the police planted a knife found at a different location and vouchered under someone else's name on Mr. Nguyen and charged him with false felony charges.

After nearly a year of proclaiming his innocence, Mr. Nguyen was acquitted of all charges on Sept. 30, 1994 by a Manhattan jury. The Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence and the Greater New York Vietnamese Community Association organized over a hundred members of the Asian American community to attend the five-day trial. Dat Nguyen was represented at the criminal trial by Manhattan Legal Aid attorney John Yong.

"This case is a classic example of a coverup for police brutality. It is appalling that the police can beat someone up in public view, plant a knife on the victim and think they can get away with it," stated Elizabeth R. OuYang, staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

AALDEF is co-counseling the case with James I. Meyerson, who represented the family of Michael Stewart, in the highly charged 1983 racially motivated killing of Michael Steward by transit authority police in Union Square, Manhattan.

The U.S. Department of Justice for the Southern District of New York is investigating the case for federal criminal civil rights violations against the officers.


Copyright 1994 AsianWeek/Pan Asia Venture Capital Corp.

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