Protesters take to street, question police shooting of Joseph Han

Easter Shooting
By: Don Chaddock, The Telegraph
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About 60 demonstrators took to the street in front of Folsom City Hall and the police station along Natoma Street on Wednesday.

They were gathered to protest the Easter morning police shooting of 23-year-old Joseph Han.

"I raised him," said neighbor Ali Chinnow. "I was like his second mom. He was my boy. His mom is like my sister."

She said the Han family is devastated.

The protesters wore white t-shirts emblazoned with black letters which read "Black Lotus Boards" and "In loving memory of Joseph Seung Han, Aug. 6, 1985-April 12, 2009."

Relative Tim Cho said the shirts are based on the logo of the skateboarding business his cousin was starting.

"(Joseph) was passionate about skateboarding," he said. "He took out a loan and was buying materials and designing boards. It was his brand and everything. Unfortunately, he was unable to finish."

Officers arrived at the Han house on Easter Sunday morning at the request of the family who say he had not eaten in three days and was possibly hallucinating.
Concerned for his safety, the family called the Folsom Police Department.

Officers used a stun gun on Han, but according to officers, it had no effect. Han reportedly brandished a knife that police say measured 8 inches.

When Han allegedly refused officers' orders to drop the knife, they opened fire and he was pronounced dead upon arriving at the hospital. According to the Folsom Police Department, they claim Han was acting in an aggressive and threatening manner.

Longtime friend Kevin Garvin believes the shooting was not justified.

"I've known him since middle school," Garvin said. "I actually spoke with him the Friday before the incident. I believe the police overreacted."

The family has retained Oakland Attorney John Burris.

"I specialize in police misconduct cases," he said.

Burris recently represented the family of a young man who was shot to death by police officers at a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station.

"I have requested police reports and coroner's reports (for the Han case), which I have not received," he said. "The question is ... whether police used excessive force. I need to have all the information before I (decide) whether a lawsuit should be filed."

The police officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

Folsom Police Sgt. Rick Hillman said the protest had been peaceful as of 5 p.m.

"We want them to be able to safely come out here and exercise their right to assembly," Hillman said. "We appreciate that they called us ahead of time and told us it's a peaceful demonstration."

The internal police investigation identified the two officers involved in the shooting at 32-year-old Officer Paul Barber and 57-year-old Sgt. Ron Peterson, a 27-year veteran of the force. Barber has been a law enforcement officer for seven years, according to the Folsom Police Department.

The local police investigation has been turned over to the District Attorney's office.

Related items: Images of the protest

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