A North Carolina officer shot a woman wielding a meat cleaver, capturing the whole incident on body cam. Now, that body cam footage has been released to the general public.
According to New York Daily News, Greensboro Police Officer Timothy “TJ” Bloch opened fire on 47-year-old Chieu Di Thi Vo, who was moving towards Bloch with a meat cleaver.
Upon review of the newly-released footage, Vo’s family says that Vo -who was developmentally disabled, suffered from bipolar disorder and spoke little English- wasn’t even behaving aggressively toward the officer.
“We needed to see what happened,” family attorney Tin Thanh Nguyen said. “It wasn’t until after we saw the video that it was like, ‘Wow, she didn’t have to die.”
The footage captures the brief and volatile encounter, where Vo can be seen staggering towards the officer, who received a call involving an asian woman with a knife.
“Where is she? Is this her?” Bloch can be heard saying in the body camera video as Vo came into view with the butcher knife. “Hey, put it down! Put it down!”
Drawing his Sig Sauer service pistol, Bloch took aim and fired, with Vo’s mother directly behind his intended target.
Greensboro PD Chief Wayne Scott said that while Vo’s death was a tragedy, he supports the ruling of investigators, who deemed the shooting an “appropriate and justified” use of force.
“I believe it’s readily apparent that she’s looking directly at him and she’s heading directly at him,” Scott said at a news conference. “She does not change her course until after the first shots are actually fired.”
The shooting sent off shockwaves within the growing immigrant and refugee community in the Greensboro area, with the Southeast Asian Coalition leading the way in convincing the city to release the video footage. Coalition Executive director Cat Le says that the department needs to review their policies concerning lethal force, mental illness and those who don’t speak English.
“It raises a lot of questions in our community of immigrants and refugees who don’t speak English. It raises a lot of questions around mental health,” Le said. “There’s a lot of folks here that believe the policies need to be looked at.”
“Now that the video has been released to the public, our next step is to look at civil cases against the city,” attorney Nguyen said. “North Carolina is not the North Carolina of 20 to 30 years ago, we’re a big hub for immigrants and refugees. So, if the community wants to show that they’re welcoming, then the police department needs to reflect that as well.”
TJ Bloch has since resigned from police duties.
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