One video shows the officer smirking, licking his lips and rocking back and forth, looking a little too excited to be facing off with protesters. Another clip shows him mean-mugging in much the same way. Both times, he directs an expletive at civilians.
SJPD Officer Jared Yuen’s apparently antagonistic behavior emerged in tens of thousands of posts on social media since Friday, when cops clashed in downtown San Jose with people demonstrating against the killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, specifically, and police brutality more broadly.
By the time a second round of protesters descended on City Hall the next day, the officer’s name was trending nationally on Twitter, with more than 30,000 mentions.
One video was posted to the Reddit thread r/PublicFreakout where it garnered more than 70,000 up votes in the first 24 hours (and has since been locked.)
In one of the videos, Yuen is heard yelling “shut up, bitch” at a female protester.
jared yuen of sjpd pic.twitter.com/36E24PbmoN
— alexis penazo (@bisayaan) May 30, 2020
A second video shows him smirking at protestors as another cop asks the crowd to disperse. And in a third video, he’s heard saying, “Let’s get this motherf*cker.”
here’s another video with the same guy screaming “let’s get this motherfucker” as if it were a game. #sanjoseprotest #GeorgeFloyd #SJPD #PoliceBrutality #PoliceViolence #NoJusticeNoPeaceProsecuteThePolice #resist #BlackLivesMatter #NotOneMore pic.twitter.com/YkuXtFwmfZ
— bowie (@bowiezamudio) May 30, 2020
Since then, an untold thousands of people have called on Chief Eddie Garcia to fire Yuen and demanded answers from Mayor Sam Liccardo. Both Garcia and Liccardo swiftly condemned the killing of George Floyd and expressed sympathy for the public’s anger, but warned protesters to respect the rule of law.
“SJPD will take a measured approach in facilitating peaceful protest, Liccardo tweeted on Friday, “but there will be no tolerance of violence to our people or damage to our city.”
Garcia even called for the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the Minnesota cop who squeezed the life out of Floyd by kneeling on his neck.
“These types of incidents are the reason why, particularly communities of color, lack a lot of trust in law enforcement,” Garcia told KTVU late last week. “It’s a reality, and it’s another example as to why that is. And so we have to work just as hard.”
After footage of Yuen began making the rounds internationally, people began calling on Garcia to publicly answer for the officer.
fire Jared Yuen. This is obviously a man who enjoys causing other people harm and should not be in a position to protect people. hold your officers accountable
— martha (@marthasp3aks) May 30, 2020
Some Twitter users compared Yuen’s behavior to that of Tou Thao—one of the three cops who looked on as Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.
Jared Yuen and Tou Thao are prime examples of how the model minority myth leads to Asian Americans siding/aiding/becoming the oppressors
— maggie (@MAGGlEHE) May 30, 2020
While some people called out Yuen online, others alerted the San Jose Independent Police Auditor, a civilian watchdog agency that has the authority to investigate an individual officer or incident only if a member of the public lodges a complaint.
When asked about the videos, a spokesperson for the San Jose Police Department said the agency is “aware of it and are looking into it.” No further details were given.
In a text message a day later, however, Chief Garcia told this news outlet that inappropriate behavior by his rank-and-file will not be brushed aside.
“Although I believe my officers acted bravely and professionally protecting their city,” he said, “I can assure the community that the behavior depicted will be thoroughly investigated and dealt with appropriately.”
In a follow-up message, Garcia added: “I wasn’t happy with what was depicted. I understand it was a chaotic scene, but we have to keep our emotions in check.”
Councilman Lan Diep tweeted out Sunday afternoon that Garcia had told him that Yuen has been temporarily reassigned to off-street duty and internal affairs will investigate. He also condemned Yuen’s behavior as a fellow Asian American.
“Police are here to serve and protect,” Diep tweeted. “During a national debate about systemic racism and the role of police, his provocations are not helpful.”
I reached out to our police chief and have been assured that Officer Yuen has been temporarily reassigned to off-stree duty & Internal Affairs will investigate his conduct. This is a learning moment for all and I expect our SJPD to become an even better force for it.
— Lân Diệp (@LTDiep) May 31, 2020
Downtown Councilman Raul Peralez, who still serves as a reserve police officer, told San Jose Inside that he reached out to the assistant police chief on Saturday after seeing the videos. He called Yuen’s behavior “completely inappropriate.”
“Almost all the other videos I’ve seen show a lot of professionalism from other officers,” Peralez said, “and that was not what was depicted of Officer Yuen in that video.”
Councilman Sergio Jimenez echoed his colleague’s sentiments and went so far as to say that Yuen should at least be reprimanded. “It’s certainly not the type of behavior that we except from our officers,” he said.
The District 2 rep—who worked for the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office before his election to the council in 2016—also expressed his support for the peaceful protesters who took part in the San Jose demonstrations Friday and Saturday. Jimenez called the march “a manifestation of the frustration generally with society,” and said he hopes San Jose continues advancing policies that make the city more equitable.
In a statement to San Jose Inside, Councilwoman Arenas said her “heart aches for the protesters that were exerting their civic right to protest and got caught up with the ill intention of other ‘pretend’ protestors that were there to loot and riot.”
“I’m sure it becomes difficult for officers to distinguish between both,” she said. “Regardless, I expect our officers to be professional and respectful.”
Mayor Liccardo—who originally declined to comment on Yuen—addressed the officer’s behavior at a Sunday evening news conference. The mayor called Yuen’s actions “particularly disturbing” and said “his conduct [is] in sharp contrast with what was otherwise overwhelmingly admirable professionalism in our department.”
Yuen, a Newark resident, was unable to be reached by press time. And the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, which represents Yuen, ignored requests for comment.
According to Transparent California, a salary database of public employees, Yuen has worked for SJPD since at least 2014 and made about $153,000 in regular pay and overtime in 2019 as part of a total $226,000 compensation package.
A cursory internet search shows that Yuen—badge No. 4362—is mentioned as having been party to an investigation into an officer-involved shooting, although he was not the one who discharged his service weapon.
Jennifer Wadsworth also contributed to this report.