On June 23, 1982, Vincent Chin died in a Detroit area hospital after efforts to revive him failed. Four days before, on June 19, the night of his bachelor party, Chin suffered a brutal blow to the head with a baseball bat in the hands of Ronald Ebens.
I have tried to get back in touch with Ebens to find out what’s happening with him–more on that later in this piece.
For now, I assume that Ebens, now 75, stands by what he told me three years ago in an exclusive interview.
Ebens said then that the whole incident wasn’t about race, but was due to a sucker-punch from Chin; that he’s sorry it all escalated, and for what happened.
But that still doesn’t explain away the result.
One Asian American–Chin–is dead.
Ebens was allowed to plea bargain in a Michigan court to escape mandatory jail time for second degree murder. Ebens pleaded guilty; Michael Nitz, his stepson accomplice, pleaded nolo contendere. Both men got this sentence: three years’ probation, a $3,000 fine, and $780 in court costs.
That’s what you get for killing an Asian American in Michigan in the ’80s.
Ebens was convicted in a subsequent federal civil rights trial, but that was reversed on appeal. He was later cleared of all charges in a second trial.
The upshot–Ebens has never served any jail time for killing Chin.
And the civil judgment against him in Michigan that orders him to pay the Chin estate?
Ebens has virtually ignored it by claiming poverty and eluding collection efforts.
The bill by now is at or near $10 million, and not a dime has been paid.
“It was ridiculous then, it’s ridiculous now,” Ebens said defiantly in my exclusive interview with him three years ago. It remains one of the rare times Ebens has talked about the entire situation:
“It should never have happened,” Ebens told me over the phone. “[And] it had nothing to do with the auto industry or Asians or anything else. Never did, never will. I could have cared less about that. That’s the biggest fallacy of the whole thing.”
That night at the strip club, after some harsh words were exchanged, Read More in Emil Guillermo’s blog on AALDEF