By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
(Editor Note: Updated with comments clarifying original statements from attorney Nancy Ly)
The California Attorney General’s office Friday agreed to review scores of complaints in the officer shooting death of father and farmer Soobleej Kaub Hawj, attorney Nancy Ly tells AsAmNews.
A hunger strike by activist Zurg Xiong, which began on July 7 in protest of the shooting, has now ended following the announcement.
Deputies and officers in Siskiyou County near the Oregon border shot and killed Hawj, 35, on June 28, accusing him of ignoring evacuation orders from the Lava Fire.
According to supporters of his family, officers riddled Hawj’s vehicle with some 60 bullets, killing him.
Ly says her client agreed to end his hunger strike Friday night after what she called a “fruitful meeting” with the State Attorney General’s office. However she later contacted AsAmNews to say “I don’t think the AG’s office is doing anything that they shouldn’t already be doing,” and has not made any promises to launch a full investigation.
The authority of the Attorney General Rob Bonta to intervene would be limited to power granted him under the recently passed AB 1506. That bill ,which Bonta authored with Assemlymember David Chiu (D-SF), allows the AG to investigate only in incidents that result in the death of an unarmed civilian or in cases where the DA or local authorities may have a conflict of interest.
“The body is definitely deteriorating, but the mind is very sharp, very cognizant, and determined. As you all know, without the body the mind often suffers,” Xiong said at a news conference Friday organized by Ethnic Media Services.
The meeting with the attorney general’s office came after Chiu called for a complete review of the shooting from the State Department of Justice.
“As a former prosecutor and civil rights attorney, I believe that an independent investigation into how and why this death occurred is wholly appropriate,” Chiu said. “A human being lost his life. And we all deserve to know why.”
He called the relationship between the Hmong community and Siskiyou County law enforcement a “fundamentally broken relationship” and vowed to continue to monitor the situation.
The State Attorney General’s office, as well as the County District Attorney’s office, has not responded to AsAmNews’ request for comment.
Much of the criticism of the County’s response to the shooting of Hawj by sworn officers from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department, Etna Police Department and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has been directed at Sheriff Jeremiah Larue, who also serves as coroner.
“I have no control over how the investigation is conducted, Larue told AsAmNews in an email. “That responsibility rests with the DA.”
Tensions have been high between many Hmong and Chinese farmers as the amount of illegal marijuana grows in the Mt Shasta increases. The county has placed restrictions on water deliveries to the farmers which they say is designed to starve them out of the area.
Larue denied that and said the restrictions passed by the Board of Supervisors are designed to “prevent the large-scale wasteful use of groundwater on illegal marijuana. Many people neighboring this particular community had wells going dry due to the overextraction of groundwater being used for illegal marijuana.”
Some 600 protesters marched through Yreka last Saturday demanding an independent investigation and release of all body cam video of the shooting.
Attending both Friday’s news conference and last weekend’s protest was Sacramento City Councilwoman May Vang, an elected Hmong American leader. She accused Siskiyou County officials of racially profiling Asian Americans.
“We must be very careful and not fall into the narrative of criminalizing our community as a way to justify racist policy and racial profiling,particularly the loss of life,” Vang said at Friday’s news conference. “I also want to emphasize that we know that there are disproportional impacts of cannabis enforcement, particularly on Black, Latino, Southeast Asian and communities of color, and not just in this county, but in this state and in this country.”
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They need to fire all policemen and hire policeman that do their job their oath of serve and protect these police officers are not doing their job they are harassing and beating up all kinds of people and then putting charges on them for lying they need to address this.