Viral Twitter video shows San Jose police officer barking at a protester, ‘Shut up, b —'
In a Twitter video that hit nearly 12 million views on Monday, San Jose Police Officer Jared Yuen is shown grinning and swaying from side to side. In an apparent attempt to rouse fellow officers at a protest following the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, he shouts, “Let’s get this [expletive].”
In the background, protesters note the officers’ frivolous behavior. “This is funny to them. They have smiles on their faces,” one says.
Another post apparently captures the 33-year-old officer barking at a demonstrator, “Shut up, bitch.” Seconds later, his team charges into a crowd. He is seen extending his projectile launcher and firing toward the protesters.
Yuen, a six-year officer at the San Jose Police Department, was put on leave Friday as a result of his comments and flippant conduct, according to the agency, and was under internal investigation, said Police Chief Eddie Garcia.
“I’m not happy with his actions. I’m sure if Jared was sitting here, he would be embarrassed as well. But I will tell you, I know Jared, and he is a good kid who made a mistake, who let his emotions get the better of him,” Garcia said at a media briefing. “He’s put his life on the line for this Police Department on many an occasion. And so we will take all of that into consideration. He will have to live with the consequences of what he did.”
But Raj Jayadev, director of social justice organization Silicon Valley De-Bug, said Yuen posed a greater risk than Garcia acknowledged. He says a police badge is practically a “state license to kill.”
“What you can’t see in the video is that there are hundreds of people right around him, and they’re mainly young people. I’m talking about high-school-aged kids,” he said. “Lives are literally at risk when you have an officer that is armed to the teeth and ready for a battle. Simply waving it off as ‘officers need to be in control of their emotions’ just seems a little bit tone-deaf,” he said.
Scores of Twitter users have likewise condemned the department for an inadequate response to Yuen’s comments. Many called on the department to fire Yuen.
User @Stephanieee_li criticized Garcia for calling “a full grown 30 something year old” officer a “kid,” saying an adult must be held responsible for his behavior. @ManeAbdallah pressed the police department to “Get this thug off our streets.”
User @CaliCruz408 tweeted at the department to recognize the atrocity of the officers’ misconduct. “Videos like this show the true nature of your men. Pay close attention to the ones trying to de-escalate with their mannerisms and to the ones ENJOYING this … Your sociopaths show themselves.”
Garcia responded to the tweets with empathy but stressed that the investigation into Yeun was standard practice for any complaint in the department.
“We’re angry as well, and we’ve made that clear. We’ve allowed peaceful protest. But we will not tolerate lawlessness.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said he, too, was dismayed by the videos. He says an independent police auditor will fully review the circumstances.
“I found the video of Officer Yuen’s statements particularly disturbing and his conduct in sharp contrast with what was otherwise overwhelmingly admirable professionalism in our department. And in my view, that officer allowed his emotions to undermine his professional duty to the public,” Liccardo said in a statement.
But for Jayadev, there’s no leeway for the department to employ an officer with this demeanor.
“Anyone that thinks it’s appropriate for Yuen to be paid with our dollars to insult, interrogate and threaten community members, and then have the actual weaponry to act upon those threats, is not thinking,” he said.
San Jose City Council members have joined the Twitter commentary as well. For Councilman Lan Diep, Yuen’s remarks brought a national problem close to home.
“As an Asian American I feel obligated to call out the poor judgment of Jared Yuen ... during the #GeorgeFloyd protest,” he wrote. “During a national debate about systemic racism and the role of police, his provocations are not helpful. … This is a learning moment for all and I expect our SJPD to become an even better force for it.”
Raul Peralez, a City Council member and former reserve San Jose police officer, felt that the actions shown in the videos were inappropriate and humiliating.
“As someone who has worn the same patch I was embarrassed. This is exactly the kind of behavior we don’t need,” he tweeted.
Get breaking news, investigations, analysis and more signature journalism from the Los Angeles Times in your inbox.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.