Ronald Ebens, the man who killed Vincent Chin, apologizes 30 years later

June 22, 2012 10:56 PM

After 30 years, the killer of Asian American icon Vincent Chin told me in an exclusive interview that the murder known as a hate crime, wasn't about race, nor does he ever even remember hitting Chin with a baseball bat.
Incredible as that sounds, there is one thing Ronald Ebens is clear about.
Ebens, who was convicted of second degree murder but spent no time in prison for the act, is sorry for the beating death of Vincent Chin on June 19, 1982, in Detroit--even though for many Asian Americans, he can't say sorry enough.
For years, Ebens has been allowed to live his life quietly as a free man.
With the arrival of the 30th anniversary this month--and after writing about the case for years--I felt the need to hear Ebens express his sorrow with my own ears, so that I could put the case behind me.
So I called him up. And he talked to me.
On the phone, Ebens, a retired auto worker, said killing Chin was "the only wrong thing I ever done in my life."

Though he received probation and a fine, and never served any time for the murder, Ebens says he's prayed many times for forgiveness over the years. His contrition sounded genuine over the phone.

"It's absolutely true, I'm sorry it happened and if there's any way to undo it, I'd do it," said Ebens, 72. "Nobody feels good about somebody's life being taken, okay? You just never get over it. . .Anybody who hurts somebody else, if you're a human being, you're sorry, you know."

Ebens said he'd take back that night if he could "a thousand times," and that after all these years, he can't put the memory out of his mind. "Are you kidding? It changed my whole life," said Ebens. "It's something you never get rid of. When something like that happens, if you're any kind of a person at all, you never get over it. Never."

Ebens' life has indeed changed. As a consequence of the Chin murder, Ebens said he lost his job, his family, and has scraped by from one low-wage job to the next to make ends meet. Ultimately, he remarried and sought refuge in Nevada, where he's been retired eight years, owns a home and lives paycheck to paycheck on Social Security. His current living situation makes recovery of any part of the millions of dollars awarded to Chin's heirs in civil proceedings highly unlikely.
The civil award, with interest, has grown to around $8 million.

"It was ridiculous then, it's ridiculous now," Ebens said with defiance.

His life hasn't been easy the last 30 years. But at least, he's alive. He watches a lot of TV, he said, like "America's Got Talent."

"They've got good judges," he said.

Sort of like the judges he got in his case?  Like Judge Charles Kaufman, the Michigan judge who sentenced him to probation without notifying Chin's attorneys, virtually assuring Ebens would never serve time for the murder?
Ebens didn't want to comment on that.

For all the time he spends in front of the television, Ebens said he has never seen either of the two documentaries that have been made on the case, and said he made a mistake speaking to one of the filmmakers. Even for this column, Ebens showed his reluctance to be interviewed.

But he finally consented to let me use all his statements because I told him I would be fair. I'm not interested in further demonizing Ronald Ebens. I just wanted to hear how he deals with being the killer of Vincent Chin.
For three decades, the Chin case has been a driving force that has informed the passion among activists for Asian American civil rights. Some still feel there was no justice even after the long legal ordeal that included: 1) the state murder prosecution, where Ebens and his stepson, Michael Nitz, were allowed to plea bargain to second degree murder, given 3 years' probation and fined $3,720; 2) the first federal prosecution on civil rights charges that ended in a 25-year sentence for Ebens; 3) the subsequent appeal by Ebens to the Sixth Circuit, which was granted; 4) the second federal trial that was moved from Detroit to Cincinnati and ended in Ebens' acquittal.

Add it all up, and it seems a far cry from justice. One man dead. Perps go free. I thought that maybe Ebens could help me understand how he got justice and not Vincent Chin.

I asked him about his side of the story, which was a key dispute in the court testimony about how it all started at the Fancy Pants strip club.

"It should never have happened," said Ebens. "[And] it had nothing to do with the auto industry or Asians or anything else. Never did, never will. I could have cared less about that. That's the biggest fallacy of the whole thing."

That night at the club, after some harsh words were exchanged, Ebens said Chin stood up and came around to the other side of the stage. "He sucker-punched me and knocked me off my chair. That's how it started. I didn't even know he was coming," Ebens said.

Chin's friends testified that Ebens made racial remarks, mistaking Chin to be Japanese. And then when Chin got into a shoving match, Ebens threw a chair at him but struck Nitz instead.

But Ebens' version that there was no racial animosity or epithets is actually supported by testimony from Chin's friend, Jimmy Choi, who apologized to Ebens for Chin's behavior that included Chin throwing a chair and injuring Nitz.

What about the baseball bat and how Ebens and Nitz followed Chin to a nearby McDonald's?

Ebens said when all parties were asked to leave the strip club, they were out in the street. It's undisputed that Chin egged Ebens to fight on.

"The first thing he said to me is 'You want to fight some more?'" Ebens recalled. "Five against two is not good odds," said Ebens, who declined to fight.

Then later, when Chin and his friends left,  Ebens' stepson went to get a baseball bat from his car.(Ironically, it was a Jackie Robinson model).  Ebens said he took it away from Nitz because he didn't want anyone taking it from him and using it on them.

But then Ebens said his anger got the best of him and he drove with Nitz to find Chin, finally spotting him at the nearby McDonald's.

"That's how it went down," Ebens said. "If he hadn't sucker punched me in the bar...nothing would have ever happened. They forced the issue. And from there after the anger built up, that's where things went to hell."

Ebens calls it "the gospel truth."

But he says he's cautious speaking now because he doesn't want to be seen as shifting the blame. "I'm as much to blame," he sadly admitted. "I should've been smart enough to just call it a day. After they started to disperse, [it was time to] get in the car and go home."

At the McDonald's where the blow that led to Chin's death actually occurred, Ebens' memory is more selective. To this day, he even wonders about hitting Chin with the bat. "I went over that a hundred, maybe 1,000 times in my mind the last 30 years. It doesn't make sense of any kind that I would swing a bat at his head when my stepson is right behind him. That makes no sense at all."

And then he quickly added, almost wistfully, "I don't know what happened."
Another time in the interview, he admitted his memory may be deficient. "That was really a traumatic thing, " he told me about his testimony. "I hardly remember even being on the stand."

He admitted that everyone had too much to drink that night. But he's not claiming innocence.

"No," Ebens said. "I took my shot in court. I pleaded guilty to what I did, regardless of how it occurred or whatever. A kid died, OK. And I feel bad about it. I still do."

Ebens told me he has Asian friends where he lives, though he didn't indicate if he shares his past with them. When he thinks about Chin, he said no images come to mind.

"It just makes me sick to my stomach, that's all," he said, thinking about all the lives that were wrecked, both Chin's and his own.

By the end of our conversation, Ebens still wasn't sure he wanted me to tell his story. "It will only alienate people," he said. "Why bother? I just want to be left alone and live my life."

But I told him I wouldn't judge. I would just listen, and use his words. I told him it was important in the Asian American community's healing process to hear a little more from him than a one line, "I'm sorry."

He ultimately agreed. One line doesn't adequately explain another human being's feelings and actions. I told him I would paint a fuller picture.

So now that we've heard what Ebens has to say 30 years later. I don't know from a phone conversation if he's telling me the truth. Nor do I know if I'm ready to forgive him. But I heard from him. And now that I have, I can deal with how the justice system failed Vincent Chin, and continue to help in the fight that it never happens again.

For more information, read the pivotal 6th Circuit federal appeals court decision, which sent the case back for a new trial. See also Remembering Vincent Chin.

This blog post, originally published on June 22, 2012, was revised on June 27, 2012, to include additional information from the Ebens interview. You can also read Emil's blog post on the 29th anniversary of Vincent Chin's death here, when he first contacted Ebens for an interview.

Update: Read Emil's new interview with Ronald Ebens on June 24, 2015, in which Ebens is questioned about his ongoing debt of millions of dollars to the Chin estate.

Updates at Follow Emil on Twitter, @emilamok.

Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.


1. Thanks Emil. This alone gives real value to my donation to AALDEF this year.
Posted by: Andrew C | Jun 23, 201211:59 AM

2. I remember watching this documentary many years ago and being affected by it. But thanks to Emil's article and holding up to his promise of being fair, I feel it's much more valuable to include Ronald's recollection of events, unadulterated. There are no winners here. I can imagine that Emil genuinely shook Ronald's hand after the interview, 30 years later.
Posted by: Rufino de Leon Jr | Jun 23, 201212:58 PM

3. Why, when given the opportunity, did you even bother if all you were gonna do was lob 'softball' questions at the guy? What a waste of effort and opportunity. There isn't too much about the case that isn't already known--but he has wilfully disregarded the civil suit. Saying sorry is fine--but he could have shown it by actually paying his debt. So Chin's mother was doubly violated--by his escape from a jail sentence, and then by his going on the lam with the express purpose to evade a civil court order. Clearly, he has learned how to apologise, but hasn't bothered to back it up financially. Unfortunately, you have too judge him by his actions, and if you accept that he is truly sorry for the murder, then why has't he bothered paying his debt? He has obviously done more than one wrong thing his whole life.
Posted by: Justin | Jun 23, 2012 1:32 PM

4. I personally think he is full of shit..I read that story over and over again(one written when he was going to trial)..Nahh..he will have to answer to someone when his judgement day comes.
Posted by: David K. | Jun 23, 2012 2:51 PM

5. 30 years later this evil criminal still denies his brandishing the baseball. He really should be put in jail to have his fxxx memory recvored. Fxx that judge --- He abused his power in such unbelievable unfair and biased way, he made his shameful fame in the history of criminal cases.
Posted by: frank | Jun 23, 2012 9:28 PM

6. Is "Sorry" enough after 30 years? My heart still goes out to Lily Chin and all the families of these victims: Navroze Mody Hoboken NJ (1987) // Jim Loo Carey, NC (1989) // Luyen Phan Nguyen Coral Springs, Fl (1992) // Kao Kuan Chung San Francisco, CA (1997) // Joesph Ileto Granada Hills, CA (1999) // Balbir SIngh Sodhi Mesa, AZ (2001) // Divyendu Sinha Old Bridge, NJ (2010) // With or without apologies, it's a lifetime of heartaches that survives the brutality of their deaths. Remember them and their families, when we hear the name of Vincent Chin.
Posted by: sjx | Jun 24, 201211:09 PM

7. Chin did not sucker punch anyone. It was Nitz that sucker punched Chin. When Chin knocked Nitz out with a counter punch, Ebens threw his chair at Chin but missed. It was then that Chin picked up the chair and started beating Ebens with the chair that he threw. Bottom line, Ebens and nitz started the fight with their racist slurs and sucker punching someone. Both got their asses kicked and couldn't handle that fact. That's why they murdered Chin.
Posted by: ytsrevil | Jun 25, 2012 6:45 PM

8. Ebens is a sad and deplorable little man. His words are self-serving and his memory is indeed selective. I'm sure it's true that he wants to be left alone. If he lived in my neighborhood, I'd be sorely tempted to get myself a large dog just for the purpose of walking it over to Ebens' property for daily elimination. Not that I'd really do such a thing, but it makes me feel a little better to consider it. I'm white myself, not that it matters much. There is good and bad within all groups of people. I will never forget the anguish Vincent's mother shared in the documentary I saw. Her loss broke my heart. Ebens seems to have a poor grasp of the pain he caused. He should be in a small prison cell for the rest of his miserable life. He should wake up every morning grateful that he didn't get what he truly deserved.
Posted by: Debra Knight | Jun 27, 2012 4:11 PM

9. Sounds to me like the murderer isn't genuinely repentant. He IS still shifting blame on the victim and if he truly believes race had nothing to do with it, then kudos to the strength of his denial. It is scientifically proven that people can rewrite memories and Ebens has done an excellent job of sanitizing the factors behind his crime. Oh yes poor him. Some Asian dude harassed him until he had no choice but to respond and accidentally killed a man as a result. Seriously? Excuse me if I'm hiiiiighly skeptical of that account because Asian Americans know all too well the forms of anti Asian racism that exists. America has never had a real discussion on racism against Asians which is why it is not recognized.
Posted by: Edie | Jun 27, 2012 8:22 PM

10. Mr. Guillermo, you have some nerve... What's the point to your article? "...if he's telling me the truth..." Why does Mr. Ebens or anyone else OWE YOU THE TRUTH ABOUT ANYTHING? "...Nor do I know if I'm ready to forgive him..." Forgive him for what? Whatever Mr. Ebens did on that night, he did to Mr. Chin... Mr. Ebens didn't commit a crime against "humanity" or all people of Asian descent... Those close to Mr. Chin can decide whether to forgive Mr. Ebens for his actions, but everyone else needs to pipe down with their righteous indignation... And finally "I can deal with how the justice system failed Vincent Chin"... If you believe the "system" got it "wrong" then you must believe the system "failed" us ALL not just Mr. Chin... For, we are the "system"... As President Lincoln put it in the Gettysburg address "government of the people, by the people, for the people"...
Posted by: Sam | Jun 27, 201210:47 PM

11. To the commenters: Most of you sound so totally self-righteous that it borders on delusional....I don't know if Ebens is "truly sincere" or not in his regrets, but I would tend to think that he is. What reason do you have to doubt him? The most human reaction in the world after making a catastrophically bad decision like that, one that resulted in someone's death, would be to regret having done it. I can't figure out why you think Ebens is a monster on par with Hitler or something. He's a guy who was drunk and got into a fight and took it too far and did a fucked up thing. I think he should have spent a lot more time in jail for that, sure. But things like that happen every day, all over the world, and the perpetrators are human beings just like you, me, or Chin. Ebens did a really terrible thing. His punishment wasn't just. But that doesn't make him evil to the core. He's an old man now, and he didn't have to give anybody an interview. If he says he regrets it and wishes he could take it all back, I believe him, because I've been there. I know the feeling. It's a combination of shame, remorse, and helplessness because there's nothing you can do to ever set things right again. And you know that no matter how many times you try to explain all that, some chorus of assholes is still going to call you a liar anyways.
Posted by: EK | Jun 28, 2012 7:57 AM

12. 10 & 11: Dumb posts. 10: circular logic. 11: "I believe him, beause I've been there." I don't think you've murdered someone and gotten away with no prison time. If you have, then I can see why you are biased and agree with him.
Posted by: EKG | Jun 28, 2012 5:57 PM

13. I'm glad Vincent Chin's killer didn't ask that people sympathize with him because he lost his job and family and lives paycheck to paycheck. He and his stepson killed an innocent man over a bar fight and got off with a slap on the wrist. He lived and worked for 30 years as a free man, bought a house and retired, all things he denied Vincent Chin the night he wielded that baseball bat. Losers...
Posted by: Rebecca Woo | Jun 29, 2012 2:10 AM

14. EK and two should just not talk in public. Your stupidity and lack of understanding are just SAAAADDD. I suppose you two would also argue that Jim Crow Laws, slavery, and ethnic cleansing in Serbia were understandable events for which we shouldn't blame the perpetrators at all. Why not just open all the prison doors and let the death row convicts live next to YOU? BTW...though we learn that judging others is wrong in Sunday school....that is just over simplified, feel good, and childish. As adults, we spend our entire LIVES judging. We judge who to work with, we judge which people to keep as friends and who to avoid and we judge who we want as president or as a mate. Those that don't know HOW to judge wind up doing stupid things. So as part of the court of public opinion, I think we get to judge whether Eben is evil, just a liar, or both. Since you posted in a public forum, we even get to judge whether you are completely naive or just plain stupid.
Posted by: Susan | Jul 17, 201211:21 PM

15. Wow, after 30 years and it still takes someone to basically pry an apology out of him to get an "I'm sorry" for murdering an innocent man. He has through the years done and said things to gode poor Vincent Chin's mother and family, and has never shown any remorse publicly for killing a man. Now he is old and changing his tune, but his previous words and actions don't support this. They really should do a story on him in his Nevada town so everyone can be aware of the monster that is living in their community.
Posted by: Paul | Jan 8, 2013 8:16 AM

16. This kind of story makes it rough being a humanist. Deep down in my gut I know there is no such thing as divine justice. Further down I long for it. Three more decades can pass - or three centuries - or three eternities, it matters not. This was a monumental injustice to Mr. Chin and his family.
Posted by: J. Graham | Jun 22, 201310:27 PM

17. I just saw the story on this incident on ID and was horrified. Whether or not there was a sucker punch, whether or not it was racially motivated, whether or not it was instigated by Mr. Chin is of less concern to me than the fact that a man brutally beat another to death with a bat. Maybe I could be more understanding if he'd only hit a defenseless man once, but he beat him to death! Regardless of what started the fight or even kept it going does NOT give him permission to murder someone. Now he's sorry? Too bad that will never make up for what he took away. I agree with Rebecca (#13); Ebens got to live his life, however pathetic it has been; something he didn't allow Vincent Chin to do.
Posted by: Heather K | Jul 25, 201310:17 PM

18. I just watched a program on ID channel recreating this tragedy. I have never even heard of Vincent Chen. I was so appalled by the story that I started to look up information on the internet. It is just horrific... how do you beat a young man to death for no other reason than you are mad and drunk?? And then get no prison time? Unbelievable, how did this happen ? It just made me feel sad and ashamed of the judicial system. I was 20 years old at that did I miss this
Posted by: Teresa Markley | Jul 26, 2013 1:27 AM

19. Just saw this on ID, and it infuriated me. I was shouting at the TV in disbelief. I agree with Heather #18. He was a coward and got away with murder. I don't understand how the justice system failed Vincent Chin so. I try not to bring race into it, but how can you not with the outcome. Looks like we are still dealing with a very flawed system from 1982 to 2013
Posted by: Lesley madashell | Jul 26, 2013 5:43 AM

20. @[#18 and #19] I have no idea what the ID channel is but Vincent Chin's trial was flawed because Mr. Kaufman made a mistake in that he assumed manslaughter without taking out as much evidence as possible. The Detroit Police officers who were at the scene during the beating (witnesses) weren't called into the court (therefore they didn't present their facts). Very few of the witnesses at the strip club were called to court (or notified of the trial for that matter). The MOTHER of Vincent Chin wasn't even notified about any of the case's details until AFTER Kaufman's decision. Federal charges were filed but human rights offences weren't clearly defined (racial profiling) until the late 90s (LONG after the Chin case). The news is old, but not forgotten. This is the primitive example of racial profiling despite Eben's deniles. I believe is killing himself for what he had done, but he is also hurting because he's been keeping his past a secret, and only let's out small facts and cover up excuses. That is what Mr. Ebens feels bad about, that he can't admit he's a monster so he results to just "sorry". He probably would have felt better if he had done some jail time. Atleast both Vincent and his mother are once reunited resting peacefully.
Posted by: Ti Ng | Aug 21, 2013 9:51 PM

Posted by: xiouping | Sep 19, 2013 3:11 PM

22. Shame on u ebens shame on our justice system my son spend 2 years for battery but God bless because of truthfulness he sleeps well every night
Posted by: Tammy Sanchez | Sep 19, 2013 4:02 PM

23. My nephew is asian american. No one would sleep for justice if need be for my nephew. I feel honored to be able to continue to provide support for vincents memory and his family. Rest assure ebens has had no heaven on earth. Several witnesses saw the use of the bat one being ebens stepson.
Posted by: Tammy Sanchez | Sep 19, 2013 4:29 PM

24. I think we should let him be. Maybe he lost his temper. And he did accept the judge's verdict. What more do you want from him ? Will you take his life or what ? Even the chinese american sucker-punched him. Maybe Ronald lost his temper-- but the chinese's sucker punch on a guy old enough to be his father was definitely intentional. In my experience (as a Indian) the chinese types are much more cunning and devious-- maybe due to their own sense of inadequacy and deep seated inferiority complexes. ps: I have had friends and family assaulted in australia and england by white racists-- so I have no love for racists-- but this guy seems like a genuine nice guy who lost his temper-- and then and now is suffering for it.
Posted by: Pri | Mar 13, 201412:42 PM

25. Pri, you just admitted prejudice against "chinese types" and you are making facts up for yourself, like the punch was "intentional". You actually remind me of a friend, a really good friend, that made comments like this openly, to by dismay. Wow.
Posted by: Ben Hine | May 23, 201412:09 PM

26. This old guy lost his temper yes..but to hunt vincent and his friend down like that..why didn't he drive home like the "nice " guy he wants us to believe he is. He was a family man, he was supposed to have been the bigger person in all that. I am disappointed in the legal system and those who believe that this guy and his stupid son should be forgiven...
Posted by: typ | Jun 17, 2014 3:28 AM

27. He sounds remorseful. Dwelling too much on that act 30 years ago doesn't improve anything, it only makes things worse. If our history in America and Canada teaches us anything, it is that we will endure and thrive as a people. Our successes will not be because of pity from the establishment, our failures will likewise not be because of animosity from the establishment. In as much as I can forgive these guys, I do so. The best tribute you can give to the Vincent Chins and all the others who suffered and died due to the injustices we faced and continue to, is to succeed on our terms and to continue to honor our parents and labor for our families. Everything outside of that is an unimportant distraction. We can see the effects of losing our perspective when we look at other minority communities in America. Learn from them.
Posted by: Chung | Jul 15, 2014 3:26 PM

28. I recently watched a documentary on ID recreating the events of that fateful night, it is terrifying to say the least. Mr Ebens should have at least served time for what he did, shame on the justice system. I feel that the officer who witnessed the battering didn't do enough to save Mr Chin's life, he just pointed the gun at Mr Ebens yelling at him to stop. If I was that officer I swear I would have shot that bustard to save the young man's life.
Posted by: arthur | Jul 23, 2014 2:30 AM

29. This article is meaningless. Why was it owed to him to be truthful, using his words? Where was think at the beginning. All we've heard is Ebens say he is sorry but push blame. How is that really a sincere apology? He even said himself he doesn't remember what happened so how are we to believe that Chin instigated with the first punch?! He's contradicting himself and that part isn't even relevant. He's painting a sad story of his last 30 years so we'll think he's suffered enough. How is living free and not spending a day in prison really suffering? The level of emotional suffering he claims to have does not compare to the emotional suffering when you're locked. Of course he wants people to leave him alone and let him live his life but when you take someone life for no reason, you lose that right. @PRI, your comment is full on racist. Should I make the racial generalization that all Indians rape women and little girls. Not valid, right. But that's all we're seeing in the news lately. Careful what you write. And losing your temper is not a reason to kill someone. Only an idiot would think Ebens has a point with that. Lastly, he "seems like a genuine nice guy", I wonder if you actually understand what happened!
Posted by: Li | Aug 3, 2014 2:14 PM

30. Maybe not a "nice guy", maybe an ordinary, run of the mill schmo like any one of us could be, who got drunk, hot with unreasonable rage, and left a wake of ruin behind him that lives on to this day. He ruined many many lives, as well as his pathetic own. Does it matter to me if he's sorry or not? Not really, though I believe he probably is. I also believe he doesn't remember swinging that bat, because that's how our minds protect us from the truth we can't endure to see. He should have gone to prison, absolutely, for a long time. HE MURDERED SOMEONE, for heavens sake, and our justice system failed ALL of us, not just the Asian-Americans. Justice failed me, and justice failed us all, because 30 years after the fact I'm reading this blog where people are still throwing stones, slurs and epithets at each other. Other than outrage, what has changed? Some of these snarling responses sound as blind with hatred as Ebens must have been that night. There has to be healing, we have to move forward or we are doomed to watch this travesty repeat itself over and we do. I was hoping by the end of the documentary, to hear that he spent the rest of his miserable life locked up, or that he was brutalized in prison the way he brutalized Vincent Chin. I went online to write him a scathing letter and found this blog instead. And in reading it, my heart changed, listening to everyone argue and accuse. Maybe forgiveness is too big a word- It requires too much of us. But what about acceptance? If we accept that our basic self-serving human natures sometimes lead us to commit thoughtless and ultimately horrific acts. And if we can accept that justice is not always blind, but biased because judges are self serving human beings too, THEN we can stop arguing and name calling (isn't that how this whole event began-come ON, people) and make our world the one we want to live in. Gandhi's famous quote: " BE the change you want to see" should be our battle-cry. Until we can do that, we will stay right here, mired in the same hatred and fear that our predecessors were. I know how sappy this sounds, but love is the answer my friends. Only love.
Posted by: Cat | Aug 27, 2014 2:10 PM

31. I agree with Arthur. The officer should have fired at Ebens, Instead he allowed more damage to be done to. Mr. Chin whose life could have been saved.
Posted by: jane | Aug 27, 2014 2:22 PM

32. Disgusting!! Just watched this on ID and i dont believe a word the guy says other than he murdered Chin.The family deserves justice snd our system failed them.He will be judged though.He should be doing hsrd time instead of living out his life.At least he has a lifeIm just shaking my head at this.A horrible Injustice was done to this family..
Posted by: tracy | Oct 24, 2014 8:32 AM

33. This killer chasing Vincent, actively looking for him in a car with a bat and then beating him to death with a bat is enough to convict anyone of murder. He had at least 10 minutes to reconsider his angry position and change his mind. These factors are usually enough to influence a jury and a judge to punish to perp to the full extent of the law. This case is still so sad because a violent death so needless, should have required jail time, period. Although the sunflower and moonbeam people want to say this murder wasn't race related, we realists know that it was. The fight was based on race, the murder was based on race, and finally, the trial and "punishment" phase was based on race. The courts just did not think Vincent's life was worth sending his murderer to prison. I do know one thing: if the roles were reversed, an Asian man hunting for a white man with a bat, and then beating him to death in front of McDonald's, the results would have been as different as night and day. That Asian man would have been so far under the prison that he would have been back in China.
Posted by: Crisco | Oct 24, 2014 9:39 AM

34. Living proof there is no god
Posted by: TimFromLA | Feb 5, 2015 6:10 PM

35. I think it's sad and it probably was racially motivated due to the situation of the auto industry at the time Vincent Chin became the target of Eben's drunken anger towards Asians or else he would've went home but he chose to kill him with a baseball bat and should've been sentenced 25 yrs to life in prison
Posted by: Leroy Rodrigues | Apr 23, 2015 3:11 AM

36. Sorry isn't good enough. He served no time, has paid no restitution. There is not a punishment harsh enough.
Posted by: ame | Jun 24, 2015 2:07 PM

37. In Christine Choy's documentary Judge Kaufman seems to fundamentally misunderstand the concept of murder. He recommends manslaughter and says if it had been a brutal attack of course his verdict would have been different. To be clear: one man held Vincent Chin back while the other struck him on the head with a baseball bat enough times to have his brains leaking on the car park. Something must have clouded Kaufman's judgement, as well as the jurors and also the murderer Ebens. I won't give them the credit to say it was just stupidity. Ebens and his son had been fucked up by Chin so they had their pathetic male egos to defend. People in a position of authority and responsibility don't even have this inadequate excuse for slaughter.
Posted by: Theo | Sep 7, 2015 5:58 PM

38. I arrived in the area for Graduate school only a few months after Vincent Chin was killed. I am Chinese American and all I can say is that it is a horrible place to be if you are Asian in any manner. Everyone viewed me as a foreigner - one that did not belong. I am 3rd generation Chinese American and only have a California accent. I was constantly asked why I spoke good English and where I was from. To ask once is ok to be asked several times by the exact same person is ridiculous. I am 3rd generation. It was absolutely deplorable that the killers only got 3 years of probation and measly fine for the KILLING of a man. We were reminded how unjust this was knowing that killing a dog would get you more than 3 years probation. The experience of living where I was not respected as a person with equal rights has tainted all my memories of grad school - to the point I wish I had gone to a different school. I am not forgiving the killers.
Posted by: tdesign | Mar 2, 2016 2:57 AM

39. If you pay attention on anti-Chinese movement in American history. This is another new version of it. I did not watch news carefully, but I remembered it aired very often regarding Mr. Chin being killed in Chinese TV program. But I turned to other major TV programs, I hardly saw it. So you can expect that when things happened like that, American selectively ignore it. When the relationship of China and America turns sour, I will consider move out of America. Because history will repeat itself again due to human nature, unless we train ourselves to change our behaves.
Posted by: pai | Jun 26, 2016 7:25 PM

40. What has Ronald Ebens done all these years to prove that he is REALLY sorry? NONE!
Posted by: An Older Chin | May 7, 2017 8:10 AM

41. The real injustice was done to Vincent by the Judge Kaufman and the Jurors.
Posted by: DD | Jun 15, 201712:41 PM

42. In 30+ years, aside from paying court costs and $3000 fine and feeling sorry for themselves because of the way their lives were effected, mostly financially, what have Ebens and\or Nitz done to pay or atone for their ignorant, horrific, senseless, racist act? Nothing? How sincere could he really be?
Posted by: A. Just. Hall | Jun 25, 201712:08 PM

43. I just saw a small clip about Chin's egregious murder on MSNBC's AM Joy Sun Jun 24, 2017 and decided to Google the two men to see what their punishment was...I was drawn to this search result to learn what Ebens feels after all these years. I'm not surprised to find there seems to be more to the story than what Joy Reid just said to MSNBC viewers. I thought you should know, Emil, that Joy Reid used Chin's murder in vain to criticize Trump nd she portrayed the incident as you described, by the reference to Japanese car imports. lost jobs and Asian-American racism. For what it's worth, I wanted to bring this to your attention so that, if you feel it's necessary, you should hold Joy Reid accountable for misleading viwers and using Chin's murder to further her slant on Trump. I loathe Trump, but I despise when any media (Fox News is the worst in the history of all news orgs) distorts and co-ops events and victims for their own gain.
Posted by: Kart | Jun 25, 201712:16 PM

44. Thank you doing this interview with Mr Ebens. It angers me that he got off so easy. If the judge is still alive I wish someone would confront him with this issue. I believe Mr Ebens regrets his actions and expresses remorse; I wish he try to pay the family anything he can and become an speak publicly against racism. This story is especially relevant in 2017 with the polarized political climate that exists.
Posted by: Brian Ong | Jun 25, 2017 5:04 PM

45. This case still angers and saddens me. When it happened, and still today, I blamed President bush for stirring up racial animosity as the seed that caused the incident and now we are facing similar behavior again. As an educator I have often brought up Vincent's death as an example of words having consequences.
Posted by: Anthony | Jul 20, 201712:55 PM

46. Thank you for publishing this. I for one, am interested in hearing the story from the perpetrator and appreciate the work you put into this. I wish the readers here would set aside their emotions and preconceived notions, and read this article carefully -- not from the mindset of a victim, but that of a citizen.
Posted by: H.C. | Sep 18, 2017 8:52 PM

47. Nitz and Ebens don't owe them ANYTHING! TRUTH! TRUTH! I feel sorry for Nitz&Ebens Hope they get freed
Posted by: Andy McAndy | Jan 10, 2018 8:37 AM

48. This guy might've lost his temper but he had 20-30 minutes to cool off while he was actively looking for Chin, and of course he had to beat Chin to death with a baseball bat after finding him.
Posted by: willy xd | Jan 22, 2018 8:41 AM

49. If you saw his interview after the murder... He wasn't thinking about the murder at all. He was saying he felt bad because it was his first time in prison and it wasn't luxurious and he was feeling so bad because he was in prison on Father's day. Seriously? Not one word of regret about killing someone. Putting aside racism matters and auto-industry, is that how you react after you kill someone? Is that what you call sorry? Maybe after 30 years, he did feel sorry. I do believe that he's sorry that it happened. But he never says sorry to Vincent, or to his family. That makes me feel that he's sorry because that murder had more consequences than he thought, rather than being sorry for the man he killed and the family of Vincent Chin.
Posted by: Joe | Mar 26, 2018 4:15 PM

Leave a comment

required, but will not be published


Preliminary results of AALDEF exit poll of more than 7,600 Asian American voters in midterm elections


AALDEF to conduct Asian American Exit Poll and monitor poll sites in 14 states


AALDEF criticizes Trump's intention to end birthright citizenship by executive order


AALDEF stands in solidarity with Pittsburgh and Louisville


Volunteers needed for AALDEF Asian American Exit Poll and to monitor polling places in 2018 elections


AALDEF denounces White House plan to redefine "public charge" for immigrants seeking green cards


Sept. 12: AALDEF legal director Ken Kimerling receives 2018 New York County Lawyers Association Public Service Award


35 Asian American groups and higher ed faculty file amicus brief in support of race-conscious admissions at Harvard


AALDEF statement on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court


AALDEF deplores the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Muslim ban


Korean and Latino workers at Kum Gang San restaurants win enforcement of $2.7 million wage theft judgment


AALDEF opposes Trump administration's politicization of Census 2020 by adding citizenship question


2017 AALDEF exit poll: 2,538 Asian American voters polled in 4 states: VA, NJ, NY, MA


Federal appeals court upholds ruling in AALDEF case that Texas election law violates Voting Rights Act