The family of an unarmed Vietnamese-American student shot and killed by deputies plans to sue the King County Sheriff’s Office.
The family is seeking $20 million in damages for what they believe was a violation of civil rights of 20-year-old Tommy Le.
“It just keeps changing, and I don’t know what the real story really is,” said Missouri Nguyen, Tommy Lee's cousin.
The family says the King County Sherriff’s Office has not provided a clear narrative as to what happened the night he was killed, the night before he was set to graduate from high school.
“He was unarmed, shot in the arm, shot in the back, wasn’t attacking anybody and there were no drugs,” said Jeffery Campiche, the family’s attorney.
Through their attorney, the Le family released the toxicology report as well as the autopsy which indicates Tommy Le did not have drugs in his system at the time of his death and that he was shot in the back twice.
“There are no scenarios that you would shoot somebody in the back because he was attacking you,” said Campiche.
The King County Sheriff’s Office initially reported that deputies responded to a Burien neighborhood of calls of a man with a knife; after some sort of confrontation, Le was shot and killed. The sheriff’s office later revealed that Le did not have a knife, only a pen.
“My son hasn’t done anything wrong and he was killed,” said Dieu Ho, Tommy Le’s mother.
Through a translator, Le’s parents spoke about their grief and frustration. His family also spoke about their concerns about racial discrimination.
“If Tommy was a different color would that deputy fire the shot.”
In a statement, King County Sheriff John Urquhart said it would be irresponsible to comment at this time because the investigation isn’t complete. The FBI is also monitoring the investigation.
As the Le family waits for those answers, they’re left with the heartache of losing a young man
“The fact that the policeman might be afraid or might be overreacting doesn’t justify the shooting. It has to be objective facts, and if somebody has their back to them while they were shooting them, I don’t know how they’re going to see if they’re holding a knife,” said Campiche.