August 8, 2003
claim against San Jose in cop shooting
WOMAN'S RELATIVES SAY EXCESSIVE FORCE USED IN JULY SLAYING
By Rodney Foo
News) - In a precursor to a lawsuit, the family of Bich Cau Thi Tran has
filed a claim against the city of San Jose, alleging the officer who shot and
killed her acted unreasonably and used excessive force.
The claim, filed with the city clerk's office, seeks more than $10,000. It also
demands that police and prosecutors preserve critical evidence including 911
tapes, radio and telephone communications, ballistic and coroner's reports, and
witness statements -- evidence that has not yet been turned over to Tran's
The claim was filed Monday by attorney James B. Chanin on behalf of Tran's sons,
Tommy Bui, 2, and Tony Bui, 4; the boys' father, Dang Quang Bui; and Tran's
father, Kim Mahn Tran.
The plaintiffs ``have suffered and will continue to suffer extreme emotional
distress and psychological injuries as a result of the shooting,'' the claim
While acknowledging the claim was aimed at getting compensation for Tran's
survivors, Chanin said it was also intended to get facts about the July 13
shooting out in the open.
``This was not our choice,'' Chanin said Thursday. ``But it was just so obvious
we were not getting the information'' from authorities ``and the community was
not getting information that this is the only alternative.''
Police and the district attorney's office have withheld disclosure of evidence
until a pending open grand jury hearing into the shooting at 570 E. Taylor St.
``Right now, the matter is being investigated by the district attorney and the
criminal grand jury,'' said City Attorney Rick Doyle, and there are exceptions
in the California Public Records Act ``in order to maintain and protect the
integrity of the investigation.''
Doyle said his staff is reviewing the claim and reserved comment on its merits.
``This is very early,'' he said.
The 9:30 p.m. shooting July 13 unfolded as officers Chad Marshall and Tom Mun
responded to a call that a child who lived at the house was wandering
unsupervised in traffic. When officers arrived they saw no child so they knocked
on the door of the home. They were met by Dang Quang Bui, who indicated Tran was
upset, police said.
Shortly afterward, Marshall entered the house and saw Tran, 25, in her kitchen.
She was holding a dao bao, a vegetable peeler commonly used in Southeast Asian
households, and police say she threatened Marshall with it.
Marshall warned to her to drop the peeler, which has a six-inch blade and
resembles a cleaver, before he fired one shot, killing her, police said.
But Tran's family and Vietnamese-American community activists outraged by the
shooting say neither the diminutive woman nor the peeler posed a threat to
Their suspicions have led to doubts within the community about whether
authorities can hold a fair and impartial hearing as promised.
The city has a 45-day deadline to accept or reject a claim. A claim must be
filed with the city within six months of an incident and before filing a
Contact Rodney Foo at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (408) 975-9346.