Vietnamese student sues San Jose police for excessive violence

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A Vietnamese university student whose videotaped arrest provoked controversy and anger last year has filed a lawsuit against the San Jose police for using excessive force, AP reports.

Ho Quang Phuong, a student of the California State University, is also demanding US$6 million in damages in a lawsuit filed with the city's federal court.

Police had no reason to use a stun gun and hit him with a baton more than a dozen times when arresting him on suspicion of brandishing a deadly weapon and allegedly resisting arrest on September 3, the plaintiff claims.

The arrest was conducted after one of Phuong's roommates told police that the 21-year-old had threatened to kill him with a steak knife during a dinner time altercation.

While Phuong was unarmed, four police officers were secretly videotaped with a cell phone by another roommate beating him at least 13 times with batons and tasering him twice. Tasering involves administering a powerful electrical shock designed to disrupt voluntary muscle functions.

Prosecutors had previously declined to file charges against the officers, who were put on leave after the videotape was revealed two months after the events of September 3, saying they used force to get Ho to comply with their orders.

They had also dropped all criminal charges against Phuong, saying both resisting arrest and brandishing a deadly weapon were misdemeanors.

While some local experts said the quality of the video was too poor to reach any conclusions, others, including Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga, voiced their concerns about police violence and abuse of power.

The incident also become a flash point in the Vietnamese community that was discussed on radio stations, in cafes, and in conversations among community leaders who sought to mobilize a collective, effective response to police violence.

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