LOCAL NEWS

Shoreline family suing neighbor charged for alleged anti-Asian hate crime, years of bullying

Aug 18, 2021, 5:49 AM | Updated: 10:55 am
Shoreline hate crime lawsuit, Thi Bao Tran Pham...
Thi Bao Tran Pham speaking during a Tuesday press conference. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

Years of bizarre, rude, and inappropriate behavior often accompanied by racial slurs and eventually an apparent death threat: That’s the behavior a Shoreline family says prompted them to file a lawsuit against their 72-year-old white neighbor.

Seattle to put $1.5 million toward fight against anti-Asian hate crimes

Thi Bao Tran Pham and her husband Bill Healy have lived next door to Jan Myers since 2017 and say the concerning behavior started getting worse in 2019, then escalated significantly in 2020 and 2021, with ongoing racial comments and bullying.

That includes an incident in March 2021, when they say Myers walked on to her very nearby patio, naked from the waist down, stared at the couple and their young son, held up her middle finger and yelled, “gotcha,” before heading back inside. Pham caught the incident on cell phone video.

It was the following month on April 5, 2021, though, that the family says the situation escalated and crossed a line, prompting them to call the police.

Pham was gardening in her yard, when Myers got in her vehicle just outside Pham’s home, rolled down the window and yelled, “Come on out, slant-eye.”

Shortly after that, Myers pulled out of the driveway with the window still down and yelled, “Hey Miss Vietnam, look at all that trash. You’re not going to live very long.”

Pham, having started recording for fear of what Myers might do, according to her attorney, once again caught the incident on cell phone video and the family called the police.

That incident eventually led to hate crime charges filed by the King County Prosecutor’s Office, based on evidence that the threats were based on Pham’s race, as well as a request for $15,000 bail. The judge opted to release Myers on her own recognizance and issued a temporary restraining order requiring Myers to stay at least 500 feet away from Pham.

Since then, Pham and her husband say Myers continues to stalk and harass them, including an incident in May where they claim she followed Healy and the couple’s son to a park, drove within 30 feet of them, and then sat and watched them at the park, violating the protection order, according to allegations in the lawsuit filed on Pham’s behalf by Seattle Attorney Jeffrey Campiche. That was backed up in police reports from Shoreline officers who recommended misdemeanor charges be filed, and referred the incident to the Shoreline municipal prosecutor.

Sitting next to her attorney and an interpreter, the lawsuit was announced Tuesday. Pham fought back tears as she described a life run by fear.

“I feel shock, and I feel so horrible,” she explained. “I have trouble going to sleep, and I have bad dreams. I feel like my life is in danger every time I go outside, but I [also] don’t feel safe in my house.”

“For years, Thi has endured ongoing racist harassment from her neighbor Jen Meyers,” Campiche said. “Her polite requests that the harassment cease were met with savage laughter.”

“Jen Myers harassment progressed to threats on to Thi’s life, and Myers exposing herself to Thi’s 2-year-old child,” he continued. “She literally took her pants off in front of the 2-year-old and made racist comments.”

Then, he added, after Thi and her husband finally got the police involved and Myers was charged with a hate crime, when Myers got out of jail, “she continued to stalk and harass” this family, prompting the lawsuit.

It’s reached a level that cannot be tolerated, according to Thi’s husband.

“My wife is scared to go outside,” he said. “She’s scared to take our son in the backyard because she’s afraid that she’ll be assaulted, so my wife stays home and stays inside and doesn’t go out. It’s really tough as a dad and a husband to have to watch them.”

“The threats to my wife’s life was a breaking point for us. And then also, she completely exposed herself to my wife and my 2-year-old son. I mean, to have to live next door to someone that’s going to do that and threatened her life — devastating,” he added.

Thi’s husband admits he’s worried, but as far being worried about further escalation, he says it’s already escalated prior to the lawsuit following Myers arrest.

“After she was released from jail, there was a condition of release, it stated that she was supposed to stay away from my wife and have no contact. And a week later, she was following us in our car stalking us and driving really close. And then the next day, she stopped in front of our house and started rolling down her window and started harassing us again. And that was after she was released from jail,” he noted.

Local leaders speak out to condemn anti-Asian violence, hate crimes

Officers who originally responded to Thi’s call to police back in April noted that several people who lived in the neighborhood had approached them with their own stories of incidents involving Myers, describing their own run-ins as incidents that involved reckless driving, stalking, and indecent exposure.

The lawsuit, which describes Myers’ repeated “hateful racial conduct” as “so outrageous in character and extreme in degree” that it should be regarded as “atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” seeks a permanent protective order, as well as damages of at least $100,000, with the final dollar amount to be determined at trial.

As for Thi, she hopes the result is peace.

“I hope (for) peace in my home. I feel like my whole life is trapped and I don’t want [to be] trapped in my home, stuck in my bed,” she explained, adding that she also hopes the media coverage can help ensure what has happened to her doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email her here

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Shoreline family suing neighbor charged for alleged anti-Asian hate crime, years of bullying