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Tommy Le

Tommy Le

Tommy Le (c. 1997-2017), a US high school student, was killed by police in the Seattle suburb of Burien on June 13th 2017, the night before his graduation. He was armed with – a pen. Le was Vietnamese American.

This came just five days before Charleena Lyles, a pregnant woman, was shot dead by Seattle police.

Like Lyles, Le seemed not to be in his right mind, was approaching police with what was said to be a knife, was only about 100 pounds, and was not White.

Unlike Lyles, there is no video or audio (so we have only the police account to go on), the police ordered him to drop his weapon, used tasers, and named the killer: Deputy Cesar Molina of the King County Sheriff’s Office. There has also been way less:

Press coverage: I heard about the Lyles shooting a day later, but did not hear about the Le shooting till two weeks later. The Washington Post, The Root and Heavy.com, which are generally good on police brutality, did not report it.

According to police, they got several calls about a shooting. It turned out to be a homeowner firing a warning shot to frighten off Le, who was holding “a knife or some sort of sharp object.” Despite the warning shot Le kept coming. The homeowner ran back inside and Le pounded on his door and stabbed it, shouting that he was the “Creator.”

When two police officers found Le they ordered him to drop his weapon and get on the ground. He did neither. They shot their tasers. One taser missed, the other hit. That should have stopped him but he still kept coming. Deputy Molina then shot his gun three times. They immediately tried to save his life.

The police looked everywhere for a knife. They did not find one – till they searched his friend’s place where he was staying. A week later police admitted that all Le had was a pen, which they would not show.

The police think maybe he was on drugs. The county medical examiner is testing for that.

Deputy Molina, like the police officers who killed Charleena Lyles, had received Crisis Intervention Training – for just these sort of cases. And like them, he apparently does not know how to disarm someone with a knife – or a pen.

Le had no known history of drugs, mental illness, crime or violence. Even the Seattle Times could not find anything.

Linh Thai of Seattle’s Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute:

“I think the community is struggling with two narratives. On the one hand, it’s a fellow Vietnamese American person, a member of the community, and that them being shot dead by anyone regardless of whether it is police is difficult for the community to grapple with. It’s impacting everyone in that sense.

“On the other hand, the community also has a tradition of respecting the law. … We trust the police. They’ll tell us what happened when they’re ready to tell us. That kind of stuff.”

Abagond

Tommy Le (c. 1997-2017), a US high school student, was killed by police in the Seattle suburb of Burien on June 13th 2017, the night before his graduation. He was armed with – a pen. Le was Vietnamese American.

This came just five days before Charleena Lyles, a pregnant woman, was shot dead by Seattle police.

Like Lyles, Le seemed not to be in his right mind, was approaching police with what was said to be a knife, was only about 100 pounds, and was not White.

Unlike Lyles, there is no video or audio (so we have only the police account to go on), the police ordered him to drop his weapon, used tasers, and named the killer: Deputy Cesar Molina of the King County Sheriff’s Office. There has also been way less:

Press coverage: I heard about the Lyles shooting a day later, but did…

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