[UPDATED with $10 Million Claim Filed:] Binh Van Nguyen Shot Dead by Santa Ana Police
See Update No. 2 on page 2 with details on the $10 million claim against Santa Ana filed by the wife of the late Binh Van Nguyen.
See Update No. 1 after the jump identifying the dead man and detailing his family's rage over the fatal shooting.
ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 11, 8:36 A.M.: Santa Ana Police say an officer on patrol noticed a man sitting in the back seat of a car parked in the 200 block of North Maxine Street around 12:45 this morning. Because of the hour and it being a residential area, this was considered suspicious, according to police, who went on to detail why they believed that man had to be shot dead.
Police say that when officers approached the car, the man quickly jumped into the front seat and started the vehicle. The cops are said to have commanded him to shut the engine down--and the driver is said to have refused, driving the vehicle right at the officers.
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That's when he was shot dead, according to police.
He has not yet been identified, although police do not believe he lived in the neighborhood.
UPDATE, JAN. 14, 8:52 A.M.: Santa Ana Police were correct: Binh Van Nguyen was not from the neighborhood where he was fatally shot. He was a Westminster resident.
Now that the 39-year-old has been identified, police are saying the area he was in is known for crimes, including prostitution, and that the deceased had prior arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, narcotic violations, probation violations and terrorists threats, although he was not on parole or probation at the time he met his end.
Conceding Nguyen struggled with drugs off and on, his family is painting a much different picture than police, according to an Orange County Register report. He is described as a caring, deeply religious father and good bowler. A makeshift memorial was set up where Nguyen was shot, and some friends and family members gathered there over the weekend, when his mother reportedly broke down and had to be pulled away. Some at the tribute carried signs that stated, "Police brutality."
You can see where this is going: the Register quotes MIchael Guisti, the Nguyen family attorney, saying the father was shot by police through the driver's side window, not through the front windshield as you'd expect of someone driving at officers. Guisti added Nguyen was unarmed and, based on news photos, his car was partly blocked in by a curb.
Sure enough, the family reportedly plans to file a claim today against the city, the first step in a wrongful-death lawsuit.
UPDATE NO. 2, JAN. 16, 11:57 A.M.: As expected, Le Quyen Vu Ngo, the 40-year-old wife of the late Binh Van Nguyen, has filed a $10 million claim against the City of Santa Ana over a police shooting that has lit a fire under an Orange County Vietnamese community demanding justice.
The claim, filed with city officials who refuse to comment as per policy, states that an unarmed Nguyen was sleeping in his car when the father of two was awakened by plainclothes Santa Ana police officers and, without justification, shot to death.
Wrongful death claims are routinely rejected by cities and generally followed by lawsuits filed by the plaintiffs.
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