Three words that could’ve saved Kim Pham’s life -- and could save you

Spectators look over a memorial for Kim Pham, who was beaten to death outside a nightclub in Santa Ana last month.
Spectators look over a memorial for Kim Pham, who was beaten to death outside a nightclub in Santa Ana last month.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Whatever happened to following this sensible advice: “Just walk away”? It’s so simple, so concise -- and in the case of Kim Pham, it could’ve saved her life.

Pham is the young woman who died after a beating outside a Santa Ana nightclub last month. Two women, Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, and Candace Marie Brito, 27, have been charged with murder and have pleaded not guilty.

What happened outside that nightclub on Jan. 18? Here’s testimony Tuesday from a preliminary hearing into the case, as reported by the Los Angeles Times:

“Officer Roland Andrade said one witness told him someone from Zavala and Brito’s group bumped into Pham, setting off an argument.

“Andrade was told one of the women told Pham, ‘Excuse me,’ using a sarcastic tone. That prompted Pham to start screaming obscenities at the group. The witness said Pham had to be restrained by her friends.


“Zavala and Brito’s group walked away, but then came back twice to confront Pham, 23, who broke free from her friends and threw the first punch, Andrade said the witness told him.

“Pham was kicked in the head by a woman after tumbling to the ground in the scrum, the officer said.”

So there, apparently, is all it was: A stupid argument. Emotions ran high. People got out of control. Now one person is dead and two others, if convicted, face long prison sentences, their lives to be ruined as well.

And for what? Because someone bumped into someone? Really?

Now, I’m not blaming the victim. Pham didn’t deserve to die. But I am saying that, had she just walked away, or had the alleged assailants just walked away, none of this would’ve happened.

I had a similar reaction to the theater shooting in Florida last month, in which a retired police officer allegedly shot and killed a man after they argued about the man’s texting. Does any sane person really believe that standing up for one’s right to text, or objecting to someone else texting, should lead to an argument that ends in death?

We’re all familiar with the circumstances by now. Gang members who feel disrespected open fire in crowded venues or streets. (Heck, “diss” is part of everyone’s vocabulary these days, isn’t it?) Drivers become enraged at some slight on the freeway, leading to road rage. Where is the logic: He cut me off; he deserves to die! Seriously?

I don’t know what happened in Santa Ana. I don’t know why Kim Pham apparently got so upset, apparently threw a punch. I don’t know why her two alleged assailants did what they did.

But I do know this: All concerned should have just walked away. Life is short enough; don’t live it by being foolish.


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