Asians, Crime, Guns / Firearms, Law Schools, Police, Temple University, James E. Beasley Law, Trials, Violence

Commonwealth v. Ung: The Temple Law Student Shooter Goes to Trial

As a deeply self-loathing Asian-American, I do not support Asians shooting white people. The white people were nice enough to let us (or our ancestors) into this great country of theirs; the least we can do is show some gratitude.

In addition, as an emasculated Asian male (is that redundant?), I don’t like guns. Of course, I respect the Second Amendment, and I’m not endorsing any specific gun-control legislation. Legal and constitutional questions aside, I just think that guns are icky and scary and bad, and the world would be a better place if nobody had them.

Given all my weird hang-ups about Asians and guns, I probably wouldn’t have made it on to the jury in Commonwealth v. Ung. The criminal trial of (former?) Temple Law student Gerald Ung — a gun-toting Asian accused of shooting Eddie DiDonato, a former Villanova lacrosse captain and the son of a prominent Fox Rothschild partner — got underway in Philadelphia this week.

And Ung’s lawyer, defense attorney Jack McMahon, seems to be standing up for the right of his client to shoot some bros — in self-defense, of course….

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, McMahon made this argument to the jury of six men and six women: “This case is about privileged, drunken bullies, four guys, tough guys, big-muscle guys. It’s unfortunate what happened to this young man, but it was their own fault.”

Ung faces charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault, among other offenses. More about the defense’s argument, from the Inky:

Defense attorney Jack McMahon said Ung felt threatened by DiDonato and his companions. Ung fired the gun he legally owned in self-defense after his pursuers taunted him for almost a block and rushed at him three times as if to start a fight, McMahon said….

McMahon said at least two of DiDonato’s friends left the scene after the shooting but that Ung stayed behind, called 911, and waited for police.

Firing six bullets into a guy? Not very Asian. Calling law enforcement on yourself, and dutifully waiting for their arrival? Asian.

Here’s how an ATL reader who attended the trial yesterday described the proceedings (this account suggests that Ung was less-than-compliant with the police):

Great opening by the ADA and a good one by the defense. Didonato testified at length. Pretty clear that the whole incident took only three minutes, and that Ung was in a rage for the last two minutes (not clear why).

Ung’s date was laughing and talking to DiDonato’s friends. That sets Ung off. DiDonato has no contact with Ung until he puts up his hands and says, “Hey man, we’re all going home.” Ung responds by firing six shots, one right through the kid’s hand. Ung shoots an unarmed guy from five feet away.

Defense talking about bullies and Ung’s fear. Whole incident is very short and happens in a space of less than one block.

[T]he arresting officer testifies that Ung resisted arrest and tried to pull the gun on the cop. Took three cops to handcuff Ung. Ung’s in a heap of trouble….

Well, it ain’t over until it’s over. If Ung gets acquitted, and goes on to finish his law degree and pass the bar, does he have to disclose this in the character-and-fitness review?

You can read more over at the Inquirer and the Daily News. We’ll keep you posted on notable developments, of course. If you have info about Ung or about his trial that you’d like to share, please email us.

P.S. Apologies if my (tongue-in-cheek) invocation of Asian-American stereotypes has offended any of you. Maybe I should do so in a book — I hear that’s hot these days….

UPDATE: Lots of interesting and substantive comments, going back and forth over who was in the wrong here, and expressing significant support for Ung’s theory of self-defense.

Trial begins in shooting that started as trash-talking [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Trial begins in shooting of ‘Nova athlete [Philadelphia Daily News]
Victim tells of being shot in Old City confrontation [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Gerald Ung

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