Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A Tacoma police officer faces demands he lose his job. His son says those calls are 'just.'

Law enforcement fills a Tacoma intersection on Jan. 23 after a police officer responding to reports of street racing drove through a crowd. The burned rubber from the illegal racing and burnouts marks the pavement at Ninth Street and Pacific Avenue.
Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press
Law enforcement and onlookers gather in downtown Tacoma after a Tacoma Police vehicle drove through a crowd on Jan. 23, 2021. Two people were injured, and the officer is on administrative leave as the investigation continues.

In January, social-media videos circulated widely in Tacoma and beyond. They showed a Tacoma police officer driving his patrol vehicle through a group of people. Two were injured.

Officer Khanh Phan was responding to an illegal gathering of people watching drivers do stunts in cars in a downtown intersection. Police say he feared for his life when some people in the crowd gathered around his vehicle.

Some Tacoma residents have called for Phan, 58, to lose his job, saying he overreacted and used disproportionate force that could have killed people. Others have defended his actions as self-defense. Phan remains on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated.

The officer’s 30-year-old son, Andrew Phan, wrote an opinion piece in The Stranger last week saying the calls to fire his father are "just." Andrew Phan, 30, is an artist living in California and said he has previously done social work, primarily in HIV prevention.

Andrew Phan spoke with KNKX's Will James about why he agrees with some of his father’s critics and what it’s like navigating those beliefs with his family.

“I’m really not enjoying this,” Andrew Phan said. “My dad is in an awful mental state. Both of my parents are, you know, they’re just really spiraling through this whole thing. But I do think we need to have standards, and I don’t think I cannot speak on this.”

You can listen to that conversation above.

Will James is a former KNKX reporter and was part of the special projects team, reporting and producing podcasts such as Outsiders and The Walk Home.