Review finds shooting of Vietnamese-American student justified
At the time of his death, the 20-year-old was holding a pen that police say they mistook for a knife
The fatal June 2017 shooting of a 20-year-old Vietnamese-American student by a sheriff’s deputy in King County, Washington, the United States, was “justified and within department policy”, according to a panel review’s report issued Wednesday.
On June 14, 2017, a man in Burien, a suburban city on the outskirts of Seattle, called the police. He told them he had fired his pistol into the ground as a warning shot to scare off a young man who was pounding on his door. Tommy Le, 20, was reportedly yelling he was “the creator”, Nextshark reported.
An official police statement suggested that the police officers, Cesar Molina and Tanner Owens, initially attempted to subdue Le using a taser gun. However, after this was unsuccessful and Le continued to move towards them, Molina shot him three times, thinking he was carrying a knife. However, the “knife” turned out to be a pen.
The incident sparked outrage in the Asian-American community, and the case was placed under review by authorities.
The review panel for King County Sheriff’s Office unanimously agreed that Molina’s actions were “justified and within department policy”. The decision was made by a panel consisting of six voting members including a sheriff, a legal adviser as well as the president of the King County Police Officers Guild.
The family of Tommy Le filed a civil lawsuit against the authorities in January this year.
Jeff Campiche, the lawyer representing the Le family, stated that official statements from the Sheriff’s Office were false as the office had informed the press that Le was armed with a knife. He was carrying a pen at the time of his death.
The police also falsified reports that the bullets hit Le from the front when in fact he was shot from behind, Campiche added.
Tommy Le was killed hours before his graduation from an alternative high school devoted to educating troubled and at-risk students.