Sheriff’s Office review concludes that shooting of Tommy Le was justified

Tommy Le (Courtesy photo)

The King County Sheriff’s Office released a report on Wednesday concluding that a deputy who fatally shot Tommy Le was justified in his actions.

The family of Le, who died the day before his graduation, said they weren’t surprised by the King County Sheriff’s Department Use of Force Review Board’s conclusion.

The Le family attorney Jeffrey Campiche disputed the idea that the report was any kind of “finding.”

“This is the Sheriff’s Office investigating itself,” said Campiche, a few hours after the release of the Use of Force Review. The family filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office earlier this year.

The fatal shooting of Le occurred days before the Seattle Police Department’s fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles. Activists around police reform raised an outcry after Lyles’ and Le’s deaths.

On the night of June 13 – just one day before before Le’s graduation from the alternative high school program Career Link at South Seattle College  — the Sheriff’s Office responded to two 911 calls about shots fired on the 13600 block of Third Avenue S.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, neighbors reported that Le had been brandishing an object at another man in the neighborhood and screaming that he was “the Creator.” Neighbors told dispatchers that they weren’t sure if the object was a knife or not.

Three deputies arrived onto the scene and two of the deputies — Deputy Cesar Molina and Deputy Tanner Owens — approached Le and demanded that he drop his object, but Le refused, the deputies reported. After firing a Taser, they shot Le three times.

The Sheriff’s Office’s press release the day after the shooting was ambiguous about the object that Le was holding, but many news organizations reported that it was a knife. The Seattle Weekly confirmed nine days later that Le was holding a pen.

According to Wednesday’s news release, the review board concluded that it might not have made any difference if the deputies had known that Le was holding a pen, because a pen can be “an improvised weapon,” the Seattle Times reported.

KIRO TV did a live stream of an interview with Jeff Campiche, the Le family attorney, shortly after the King County Sheriff’s Office released its report.

In June last year, a 20-year-old student holding a pen was shot and killed in Burien by a King County deputy. Today, a Use of Force Review Board unanimously concluded the force used by the deputy against the man, Tommy Le, was justified. Read more here >> here as Le's family's attorneys respond to the findings.This livestream has ended on Facebook Live. Watch the rest on our free KIRO 7 News app or at this link: Latest on KIRO 7 News starting at 5 p.m. on-air.

Posted by KIRO 7 News on Wednesday, August 22, 2018