A Caucasian woman and man — a “Karen” and “Ken” — recently called the police on an Asian American man who was visiting his parents in Davis, California.
The incidents happened on July 10 as Khoa Lam was taking a walk and Facetiming his wife when he claimed the woman was stalking him.
She repeatedly told Lam that he did not belong at the residence, asked him to leave, and interrogated the physician about what he was doing. After realizing she was being filmed, the woman immediately walked back to her home and threatened Lam about calling the cops.
“Well, if she really was just a friendly neighborhood watchdog, she should have stopped after she learned that I was visiting family,” Lam said in his post. “Still threatened to call the cops on me, then why leave when she realized she was on camera? I was holding a phone, not a gun.”
Lam said that a man then approached him that same day while he was out texting his friend after his encounter with the woman. It turned out that a neighbor called him and accused the physician of taking photos of people’s houses and cars. Lam was calmly standing six feet away from the man.
The “Ken” said he felt threatened and called the cops on Lam, as seen in the video below.
The man’s tone “should have indicated to the dispatcher that he was not in imminent danger or harm,” Lam told NextShark.
“The dispatcher should have questioned the legitimate basis of his claims when he described me as being standoffish and refusing his questions while also saying that I was just recording him and standing 6 ft away,” he continued.
Two officers responded to the man’s call and questioned Lam about what happened. Officer Morgan Hatcher reportedly lectured Lam on “perspective” while the male accuser turned the situation by saying he “didn’t know what to do” because Lam had repeatedly asked him to call the cops.
Lam’s parents came out to support him and for validation. When asked if he could confront the man in front of the authorities, the officers refused. He tried to walk over to the man peeking through his window, but the police strongly advised against it saying the physician looked “quite provoked.”
“Her fellow officer told me that if I were to confront those people later tonight and they ended up calling the cops again, ‘it’s not going to be…’ I said, ‘What? Not going to be what? Not going to be pretty?’ She then accused me of putting words in her mouth,” he said in a third post.
Following the incident, Lam wrote a complaint stating that the accusers had committed racial profiling, bias-by-proxy, discrimination and harassment, which he said is in violation of the Assembly Bill 953, also known as the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015.
Part of Lam’s complaint, which he sent to NextShark, reads: “The officers failed to investigate their actions properly and threatened me. They exhibited implicit bias during their field interview of me, and discriminatory policing with their non-enforcement of the law. They should have been trained and made aware of the potential bias-by-proxy during their field interviews. The dispatcher should have collected the necessary information to verify potential criminal activity or lack thereof, and realized potentially biased assumptions when taking calls. Reports of suspicious activity should not be actionable unless a complainant can articulate potential criminal activity with reasonable suspicion. The Vera Institute of Justice warns that bias by proxy may arise when ‘officers rely on the emergency dispatcher’s recitation of what a biased caller claims to have happened instead of making an independent and professional assessment of the caller’s claims.’”
Citing the Racial Identity Profiling Advisatory Board Report of 2019, Lam said, “Officers are advised to take Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) courses on implicit bias” and that dispatchers “should be trained to pass along information without biased assumptions made by the complainant and alert the assigned officers accordingly.”
Dispatchers are also allowed to inform the caller that an officer may not respond to the call without a “legitimate basis of criminal conduct,” the report says. “If dispatchers must assign an officer, they should be allowed to inform officers of their concerns with the call for service. Agencies should develop policies and other materials that assist dispatchers in identifying biased calls and establish operating procedures for how biased calls should be forwarded to police.”
The CAREN Act, which stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies, was introduced in San Francisco that would make non-emergency 911 calls illegal. Callers would be liable for damages of no less than $1,000. It was introduced alongside Assembly Bill 1550 that classifies false and discriminatory 911 calls as a hate crime and would allow the harmed person to sue the caller for up to $10,000 in damages.
When asked about the CAREN Act, Lam told NextShark he is personally excited for the proposal, adding, “I hope it gets passed and adopted widely.”
A similar bill is reportedly being processed in other cities, including Oregon, New York and Washington.
Davis Police Department told NextShark in a statement that it is in contact with Lam and working with an Independent Police Auditor in an ongoing review of the incident at the physician’s request.
“It will take a little time to do a thorough review, which includes interviewing everyone involved, reviewing body-worn camera video, video taken by Mr. Lam, and listening to the phone call that was made to the Police Department,” Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said. “We will be in touch with Mr. Lam during our review and will share our findings. The Independent Police Auditor will also likely release findings, which will be available for review.”
Feature Image Screenshot via Khoa Lam