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CITY HALL JOURNAL

MONTEBELLO : Lawsuit Accuses Police of Racial Bias in Arrest

August 04, 1994|PSYCHE PASCUAL

A Chinese couple who allege they were arrested after defending themselves in a confrontation with three teen-age girls have filed a lawsuit accusing Montebello police officers of racial discrimination and mistreatment.

Attorney Jinshu Zhang, his wife Yuan Fu and their 4-year-old son were accosted by three teen-agers at a Burger King at the Montebello Town Center mall, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. But instead of arresting the girls, police jailed Zhang and Fu, both 35, on battery charges, the suit said. The Monterey Park couple spent about an hour in jail, police said.

The suit seeks damages of at least $1 million and names the city, Police Chief G. Steve Simonian, and Officers Daniel Barron and Stacy Heckers.

Zhang, a securities attorney, contends the arresting police officer, a Latino, never interviewed him, and believed the teen-agers' version of events because they also were Latino.

City officials and a deputy district attorney said Zhang and Fu were arrested because other witnesses supported the teen-agers' claims that the couple initiated the attack.

Deputy District Atty. Alexis de la Garza said the couple agreed to complete a course in cultural sensitivity in exchange for having the battery charges dropped. Paul L. Hoffman, an attorney representing Zhang and Fu, said their agreement to take the course was not an admission of guilt.

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