Greensboro, North Carolina
March 27, 2014
Cause of death: Shooting
Last updated: over 3 years ago
Chieu-di Thi Vo, 47, was shot around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Aberdeen Townhomes in the 4000 block of Hewitt Street. She was taken to Moses Cone Hospital, where she died around 1 p.m. Thursday, police said.
Officer T.J. Bloch said he saw Vo threatening another woman with a knife and commanded her to drop the weapon, police said. Vo instead "advanced toward Bloch, brandishing a knife in a threatening manner, resulting in him discharging his firearm to stop the threat," police said in a statement.
Bloch administered first aid until EMS arrived, police said. Bloch wasn't injured.
Preliminary reports indicated the dispute was between family members, police said.
Greensboro police have been using body cameras since last summer, when they enrolled in TASER’s evidence.com program, which allows the department to manage and easily share videos captured by police body cameras.
But when Officer TJ Bloch shot and killed 47-year-old Chieu-di Thi Vo, a Vietnamese immigrant diagnosed with bipolar disorder who did not speak English, in March, Chief Ken Miller refused to release video captured by Bloch’s body camera, choosing to classify all footage from these cameras as part of an officer’s personnel file.
Personnel files are protected under public records law.
It’s a dance with which every seasoned journalist is familiar: Government and its agencies, from Washington DC to Greensboro’s Melvin Municipal Office Building, spend a great deal of time figuring out how to classify damaging records as personnel issues — or under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as HIPAA records are also confidential — in order to hide shameful truths.
But in the case of police body cameras, it’s particularly distasteful.
The whole point of the cameras is to have an indisputable record of what happened. It’s not a definitive record — like humans, cameras can only get one perspective at a time — but each piece of footage gives a vital piece of information about police conduct that protects both citizens and officers themselves, who are often unjustly accused of inappropriate use of force.
That’s exactly why the city, police department and police foundation advocated for the cameras, which are now worn by every patrol officer in the city — to protect citizens and officers alike.
It’s a pretty sure bet that if Bloch’s body camera held footage exonerating him of wrongdoing, we would have already seen it.
Department officials would not comment on the circumstances of Bloch’s Dec. 22 resignation.
Spokeswoman Susan Danielsen said Friday that Bloch “chose to resign while he was under an administrative investigation.”
The investigation had to do with Bloch’s blog and podcast.
December 2014 Officer resigns and investigation dropped
May 2016 Video from body camera shown to the media
September 2016 Why full video needs to be released as early as possible
March 2015 one year later
May 2016 March demanding release of video
May 2016 Government watchdog wants video released
July 2016 North Carolina passes undemocratic laws restricting the public from seeing police videos
August 2016 Body camera discussion with new laws and Apple technology sending transparency backwards.