Two candidates running for Santa Clara County district attorney claim incumbent DA Jeff Rosen intentionally tripped one of them at the end of a debate—an incident Rosen says was an accident.
The episode occurred last Friday at the end of the first in-person forum with all the candidates for the DA’s race hosted by Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose. All three candidates in the race—incumbent Rosen, former deputy district attorney Daniel Chung and deputy public defender Sajid Khan—took part in the forum.
In a video reviewed by San José Spotlight, the candidates are standing at a table, with Chung to Rosen’s left. As the debate ends, Chung leans over to shake Rosen’s hand and Rosen appears to ignore him. Chung walks behind Rosen to shake hands with Khan, while Rosen turns to grab his briefcase from the floor. As Chung tries to return to his spot at the end of the table, he appears to trip over Rosen’s outstretched foot. Khan tells Rosen he tripped Chung, and less than a minute later he appears to apologize to Chung and shake his hand.
Chung believes the trip was intentional and says Rosen was upset with him because he criticized the DA’s office for allegedly withholding evidence, prosecutors sleeping with witnesses and dismissing homicide cases.
“I have a hard time believing this was unintentional,” Chung told San José Spotlight. “The leg movement was too sweeping and violent and forceful for me to believe that.”
A representative for Rosen characterized the trip as an accident.
“During a candidate forum, as they were both walking in a very narrow space, DA Rosen accidentally bumped into Mr. Chung,” Leo Briones, a representative for Rosen’s campaign, told San José Spotlight. “Thirty seconds later after the forum concluded, DA Rosen shook Mr. Kahn’s and Mr. Chung’s hands and apologized to Mr. Chung. Unfortunately, DA Rosen’s opponents are attempting to sensationalize a simple human interaction for political gain.”
Chung and Rosen have a history of conflict. Chung, who joined the DA’s office in 2018, ran afoul of his boss last year after he wrote op-eds critical of Rosen and the office. Chung claims Rosen put him on administrative leave because of the opinion pieces and took the unusual step of issuing security notices saying Chung wasn’t allowed on DA property. Chung sued Rosen last September for allegedly retaliating against him and weeks later announced a run for office. His suit is still pending.
Khan, who witnessed the incident, told San José Spotlight he believes Rosen wanted to trip Chung.
“Mr. Rosen should strongly consider taking a step away from his candidacy, and his seat as DA, to reassess whether he’s fit to continue,” Khan said.
Jen Myhre, senior organizer with SURJ at Sacred Heart, told San José Spotlight she wasn’t in the room and couldn’t speak to the incident. She said regardless of what happened, it shouldn’t overshadow the event itself.
“What the voters need to know in order to decide among the three candidates isn’t eyewitness accounts about whether someone did or did not trip someone else at the forum, but instead what their answers were to tough questions asked by the members of Sacred Heart Community Service and the people of Santa Clara County,” she said.