By Sophia Kazmi
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
August 18, 2005
Leaders of the Bay Area Korean community will meet today to discuss
concerns over last week's police shooting in Dublin that took the lives
of two Korean men.
Also today, Jee Kim, who lost her brother and her husband in the Aug. 11
incident, will hold a press conference to give her account of events.
Hun Kim, executive director of the Korean Community Center East Bay,
said there are unanswered questions over the shooting of Kwuang Tae-Lee,
61, and Dublin homeowner Richard Kim, 49.
"I think, given the story, there are questions that need to be raised to
the Dublin police about investigating the officers' conduct, language
sensitivity, cultural awareness and restraint in the use of deadly
force," he said in a statement Thursday. "Beyond that, it is the opinion
of the wife who witnessed the event that the police used excessive force
and did not need to kill both men."
Police responded to reports of a woman screaming in a home on Innisbrook
Lane about 11:40 p.m. When they arrived, they saw a man with a knife
rushing up the stairs. Police entered the house and followed the man to
the second floor and ordered him to drop the knife.
Jee Kim, told the Korea Times her brother, Tae-Lee was "very drunk" that
night and couldn't hear the two police officers ordering him to drop the
Investigators said Jee Kim told her brother -- who was visiting with his
wife from Korea, and who did not speak English -- in Korean that police
were on the way.
B .J. Han, the reporter covering the shooting for the Korea Times, said
Jee Kim told him when Tae-Lee didn't drop the knife, officers fired
once, injuring him. He turned and began moving toward the officers, who
shot him four more times.
One bullet pierced a door of the bedroom where Richard Kim was. Police
said it grazed his eye and his temple and went through his arm, severing
an artery. He was taken to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where
he died Sunday night.
Jee Kim has retained attorney Jonathan Bae, who said his client will
make a statement Friday
"I believe flat out there are many ways to disarm someone who is not
firing a weapon at you," said Hun Kim.
David Kim, vice president of the Korean-American Association, said he
hopes to meet Friday with Dublin Police Chief Gary Thuman. Also Friday,
members of the coalition meeting on Friday will urge "a public and
transparent investigation" of the shootings.
Thuman declined to comment on the investigation today.
The officers involved in the shootings, David Taylor, 39, and Tara
Russell, 26 -- both five-year veterans of the Alameda County Sheriff's
Office -- remain on leave.
Brian McKenna, a police lieutenant in suburban St. Louis, and an expert
on officer safety techniques, said decisions on the use of deadly force
have to be made in a split second.
"There are procedures in place to communicate with a person (like to
call for an interpreter), but it's not something that can be done in a
deadly force confrontation. Your average deadly force confrontation is 3
and a half seconds" and an officer coming cold to a scene is not going
to know if a person speaks English, he said.
"If you see a man running up the stairs with a knife, your concern is
what is he doing with that knife. . . You're standing there going 'What
happens if this man gets out of my control and I can't stop him and
somebody gets hurt?'"
Although Tae-Lee did not understand English, McKenna said the message of
an officer with a gun should be clear.
"It's just common sense that you don't threaten a police officer with a
gun pointed at you," he said.
There have been some concerns about why police did not report that the
homeowner was also shot, until after he died on Sunday. But, Tom Aveni,
an expert on police use of force, said it's not uncommon for departments
to wait until they have all the facts before releasing information about
"The public perception is that police are trying to hide something,"
when that happens, even though that is not true, said Aveni, co-founder
of the Police Policy Studies Council.
"I don't think anyone realizes what an officer goes through, even with
shooting an armed suspect . . . And if it's an accidental shooting, it's
a terrible thing," McKenna said.
"You have to be sensitive to that officer's needs and you want to make
sure you're right before you say anything," he said.
Visitation services for Richard Kim and Tae-Lee will be 7:30 p.m. today
at the Jess C. Spencer Mortuary in Castro Valley. The funeral will be 10