Cau Thi Bich Tran

Cau Thi Bich Tran, shot in San Jose, 2003 On July 13th of 2003, a Vietnamese woman named Cau Thi Bich Tran was fatally shot in the chest and killed. She was killed in her apartment in front of her boyfriend, with her two children in the adjacent room. On the night of July 13, Tran had accidentally locked herself out of her bedroom. After calling for police assistance, she took her children outside. A neighbor spotted one of her kids and made a police complaint about an unsupervised child on the street.

After Tran decided to go back inside her house, she attempted to open her bedroom door using a Vietnamese vegetable peeler called a ‘dao bao’. The neighbor then called the police a second time, fearing a domestic dispute since she heard screaming and banging from Tran’s apartment. Officer Chad Marshall arrived at the scene he allegedly barged into Tran’s house. Thinking that Tran was holding the vegetable peeler as a weapon, he shot her in the chest, not once asking her to place the peeler down.

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This happened moments after the police arrived on the scene. Tran’s boyfriend witnessed the entire exchange; her two sons screaming hysterically in the next room. Cau Thi Bich Tran was 4’9″ and weighed less than 100 lbs. After the incident, police and media reports focused on Tran’s history of mental illness, ignoring the wrong assumption of Officer Chad Marshall that led to her death. When Officer Marshall was cleared of any wrongdoing, her family filed a wrongful death suit against the Officer and the city in November.

When Tran was 19, she moved to the United States. Here, she met Dane Quang Bui, the man who would later become her boyfriend and father of two sons, Tony, 4, and Tommy, 2. On July 13, her dreams of opening a salon were brought to a screeching halt by a fateful decision by Officer Chad Marshall, her killer. It takes one minute of carelessness, one second of anger and one long step and that safety and security will be destroyed.

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