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Tommy Le's family wants his death by King County deputies included in state probe of police killings

A state investigation on compliance with a voter-approved measure on police deadly use-of-force does not include Le's 2017 killing by King County deputies.

SEATTLE — "It's hard for us. It's like we are doing this all over again," said Xuyen Le as she sat in her attorney's office on Friday morning.

Xuyen Le and Uyen Le say they want justice for their late nephew, Tommy Le.

On June 14, 2017, Le reportedly was harassing some homeowners in Burien, making threats and yelling irrationally. A neighbor called 911, and King County Sheriff's Deputies arrived.

Two deputies fired Tasers, but that was not effective. One deputy fired his gun and killed the 20-year-old.

In a press release immediately following the shooting, KCSO said Le had a knife or some sort of sharp object in his hand as he moved toward deputies.

Later the sheriff's office said Le did not have a knife but instead a pen.

The sheriff's review board, which is part of the Sheriff's Office, found the deputy was justified when he shot Le.

"The self-investigation is very flawed and very biased," said Jeff Campiche, the attorney for the Le family.

Campiche wants Tommy Le's case added to a list of police shootings Attorney General Bob Ferguson intends to investigate.

A spokesperson for Ferguson says the Attorney General's Office is conducting a statewide inquiry into cases that have happened this year to ensure police agencies are following Initiative 940, which calls for independent investigations into deadly force by law enforcement.

Le's case happened before I-940 passed in the Legislature in 2019.

But State Sen. Joe Nguyen doesn't believe that's the end of the story.

"I am not going to take no for an answer when it comes to getting an independent review," Nguyen said.

Ngyuen represents the 34th Legislative District, which includes Burien where Le's case happened. He says he's appalled by the lack of information that's been shared.

KING 5 asked Nguyen what he intends to do about it as a state senator.

"We've already been talking, regardless of what the next session looks like, this will be a priority for us," he said.

Nguyen says he will focus on several issues related to policing in the next session.

The sheriff's office is not commenting on this case because of pending litigation. The family has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the county.

As for an independent review, Ferguson's office says right now, it's out of his hands.

"The Attorney General has broad authority to enforce civil statutes, but the Attorney General has no original criminal jurisdiction. Consequently, the Attorney General's Office cannot launch a criminal investigation without the written referral of an elected county prosecutor or the governor."

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