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Asian-American says she was called ‘Cadet COVID’ while in ABQ police academy

<i>KOAT</i><br/>Nan Zhang held back tears when she shared her experience as a cadet with the Albuquerque police.
Nan Zhang held back tears when she shared her experience as a cadet with the Albuquerque police.

By T.J. Wilham

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    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KOAT) — Nan Zhang came to America 15 years ago, became a citizen and decided she wanted to serve her new country.

“So my ultimate goal (was to) become APD police officer,” said Zhang who was originally from China. “It’s (to) protect my community.”

But her plans to become an Albuquerque police officer were cut short, she says, when she was forced to resign. She claims in a lawsuit that she underwent abuse, discrimination and was has given the nickname “Cadet COVID.”

“People kept telling me that you don’t belong here,” Zhang said. “They tell me these things every day. This is harassment. I mean, it’s just because of my age, my language and my race.”

Now, Target 7 is being told that the Department of Justice has reached out to Zhang’s attorney.

Target 7 reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s office and they will not confirm or deny an investigation. APD says they don’t believe the DOJ is looking into Zhang’s claims and in legal documents city attorneys denied that Zhang was pushed out of the academy and instead she voluntarily quit. City attorneys also denied any that any academy personnel discriminated against Zhang.

“I’m an American citizen, I’m American,” Zhang said. “And, my rights is equal like everybody else, but they treat me so different.”

KOAT legal expert John Day said there is plenty of accusations for the DOJ to look at.

“The Department of Justice, that’s one of their jobs,” Day said. “One of their missions is to investigate allegations of civil rights violations. The Department of Justice has an obligation to investigate. If they are in fact investigating, It means that they there is some information that they have that has led them to decide that we have got to look into this further.”

Zhang moved to the U.S. about 15 years ago. She eventually ended up in Albuquerque and decided to become a police officer after her home was broken into twice in the same week.

“I work out every day to try to meet the requirement for APD,” Zhang said.

Zhang tested and passed APD’s physical agility tests and written tests with flying colors She then interviewed with three high-ranking police officers — two deputy chiefs and a lieutenant- they all approved her to become a cadet.

In order to become a police officer cadets have to complete 26 weeks of training at the APD Law Enforcement Academy. Zhang had and finished six weeks before she says she was asked to resign.

In her lawsuit, she says academy personnel made her sign a resignation letter in which she says, “I was made to believe that she was quote — unfit for the role.”

Before Zhang signed that letter she says she went through weeks of what she calls “abuse.” She claims everyone kept telling her they couldn’t understand her English.

Zhang hired retired Albuquerque police officer-turned attorney, Tom Grover to represent her. Grover himself graduated from the same academy

“What stood out to me when I looked at the records that Nan had when she provided her narrative of what occurred was how they were such a dwelling upon her while others were getting passes,” Grover said. “This was completely inappropriate and not consistent with the typical stress that a police academy is.”

Earlier this year the state’s department of workforce solutions investigated her complaint and found no probable cause that the city discriminated against her

Despite what she claims she went through Zhang says she still wants to be a police officer and serve her community.

“I really want to become a police officer, honestly,” Zhang said. “But I don’t think they will accept the people who look like me. Look different. Talk different.”

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CNN Newsource


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