The family of Tommy Le will receive monetary compensation from King County, Washington over his death at the hands of police. The two sides settled a civil rights case for $5 million over the fatal 2017 shooting, reports King 5.
In 2017, the then 20-year-old Tommy Le was shot and killed by King County Sheriff’s Deputy Cesar Molina. Police arrived at the scene in Burien after neighbors placed a call of a man with a “knife or some sort of sharp object.”
Three deputies arrived and confronted Le. They said he had a knife and they tased him but he kept advancing. The officer who shot said he feared for his life and fired in response.
However, Le didn’t have a knife in his hand but rather a pen. Also, Le was most likely moving away from them considering he was shot in the back.
The investigation into this shooting was also a disaster. An outside review found “serious gaps” in the investigation. First, the officers were given 48 hours to give a statement. Second, they weren’t interviewed by investigators until five weeks after the shooting and almost no follow-up questions were asked. The report noted that the investigators never asked how Le was shot twice in the back when they said he was moving forward.
Furthermore, the King County’s Use of Force Review Board was not given a “clear picture” of what happened with Le including that he was likely running away.
“It’s no secret there was a coverup, it was so transparent when it was finally revealed,” Jeff Campiche, the family lawyer said. “The truth is that Deputy Molina shot and killed an unarmed, 120-pound Asian high school student in the back while he was retreating, and that does not meet the constitutional requirements for the use of deadly force. And the King County Sheriff’s Office, collectively, covered up the truth by concealing, omitting and misstating, and even tampering with the evidence.”
Le’s mother Dieu Ho said through an interpreter that she was “relieved” the truth was out.
“I think it is satisfactory that they somewhat admit that my son was respectful of the law and he would never try to attack a police officer,” she said.
Cesar Molina was cleared of any wrongdoing.