Anaheim to Settle Profiling Lawsuit

Times Staff Writer

Anaheim has agreed to pay $50,000 to a Korean man who claimed that racial profiling by officers caused him to be wrongly detained for two days on suspicion of killing a California Highway Patrol officer.

Anaheim officials said they settled the long-running case as a matter of expediency and insisted Tuesday that police officers did nothing improper.

"There is absolutely no wrongdoing on the part of the city of Anaheim or the Anaheim Police Department. The settlement has nothing to do with officers doing something wrong," said Mark Gordon, deputy city attorney. "You litigate a case for six years, you put in a lot of time and money. There comes a time when you just want closure."

Yong Ho Choi was arrested in 1996 on suspicion of killing CHP Officer Don Burt Jr. After he was released, a Vietnamese gang member was arrested and later convicted in the case.

Choi was taken into custody at gunpoint on an Anaheim street corner shortly after a gunman shot CHP rookie Burt seven times in Fullerton and fled in the officer's car. The car was abandoned in Anaheim, and Choi was found waiting for a bus nearby. Several eyewitnesses identified him as the man Burt pulled over.

He was released after police said evidence, such as fingerprints and gunpowder tests, failed to link him to the crime.

Hung Thanh Mai, 25, of Anaheim was later convicted and sentenced to death.

Choi sued Anaheim as well as Fullerton, whose police led the investigation. He said he was the victim of racial profiling, noting that officers arrested him after a general description of an Asian man was broadcast.

Attempts to reach Choi or his attorney, Stephen Yagman, were unsuccessful.

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