The 20-year-old family, who were shot dead by an officer, reached a settlement with law enforcement agencies.
The King County Sheriff’s Office agreed to pay $ 5 million for the death of Tommy Le, who was 20 years old at the time of that death. The settlement was reached less than a month before the civil rights lawsuit. Le’s family, who filed a lawsuit in 2018, sought $ 10 million in damages.
Neighbors reportedly called 911 to report Le banged on doors and threatened them with a knife. When police officers arrived, Deputy Cesar Molina shot him three times after trying to use a Taser Le.
“Le refused orders to drop what they thought was a knife,” Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Cindi West said in 2017. “Two MPs fired their tasers, one of them hit Le. But it had no effect. “
A knife was never recovered, however, and a week later the police department revised the statement to indicate that Le had a ballpoint pen. He had traces of LSD in his system, was unarmed, and was shot in the back. His family spent nearly four years uncovering what they thought was a cover-up. Teachers, family and friends all said it was very atypical for Le to threaten someone.
Photo by Kat Wilcox from Pexels
When 19-year-old classmate Nafisa Mohamednur found out about his death, she replied, “He’s a bubbly kid. He is a simple person to talk to about anything. “
Le family lawyer Jeff Campiche says witnesses saw Le under a street lamp with nothing in their hands. Le attorneys also said the pen found on the scene was the same one the sheriff’s office used and that it may have been planted on the scene. Most importantly, Le was shot in the back, which suggests he ran away. The Le family lawyers say the results of the autopsy were not included in the investigation.
The Force Review Board ruled the death was warranted, but an independent investigation by the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight found that the King County Sheriff’s Office “did not acknowledge critical facts, including the fact that Mr. Le did not take action against the MP, who used deadly force. ”
In December 2020, a federal judge in the 9th Court of Appeals sanctioned King County’s attorneys and the alternate for “frivolous appeals.” The judge said they “wasted the court’s time and resources.”
However, the sheriff’s office stood by his allegations, stating, “The King County sheriff’s office was ready and willing to bring this case to court. Although the parties cannot agree on the basic facts of this case, we are delighted that this settlement will enable everyone to avoid a difficult and likely painful process. King County Deputy Sheriff Cesar Molina was dismissed as a designated party as a condition of the settlement. “
King County executive Dow Constantine also made a statement: “I hope this settlement brings some peace to the Le family and community. This tragic event underscores the need for a thorough review of law enforcement policies and procedures following a death by an officer. “
The agreement can only do so much for the family. “There is still pain in our family every day, nothing is going to change,” said Sunny Le, Tommy’s father. “I want my son back.”
King County Sheriff’s Office pays $ 5 million for Tommy Le’s death
“Bubbly Kid” was fatally shot by the King County Deputy hours before high school graduation