The lawyer of Tommy Le’s family wants the 2017 murder case in Seattle to be included in a list of cases to be investigated by Attorney General Bob Ferguson against police officers who used deadly force.
Call for action: Jeff Campiche, the family’s lawyer, described the self-investigation toward the 20-year-old’s murder in 2017 as “very flawed and very biased,” according to KING 5.
- Campiche now wants the case to be included in the state-wide investigation led by Ferguson’s office as a way to ensure the authorities are following Initiative 940, an independent investigation against officers who used deadly force on duty.
- However, I-940 passed the legislature in 2019, approximately two years after Le was shot and killed by two deputies from the King County Sheriff’s department.
- “I am not going to take no for an answer when it comes to getting an independent review,” State Senator Joe Nguyen, who represents the 34th Legislative District that includes Burien, the location where Le was shot, told KING 5.
- When asked about his next move as the state senator, Nguyen said they have “been talking, regardless of what the next session looks like, this will be a priority for us.”
- “It’s hard for us. It’s like we are doing this all over again,” Xuyen Le, Tommy’s aunt, said.
- Le’s case is currently not in the jurisdiction of Ferguson’s office and cannot launch an investigation into the murder.
- “The Attorney General has broad authority to enforce civil statutes, but the Attorney General has no original criminal jurisdiction,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement. “Consequently, the Attorney General’s Office cannot launch a criminal investigation without the written referral of an elected county prosecutor or the governor.”
What happened: Police were called on a man threatening neighbors in the 13600 block of Third Avenue South in Burien in King County, Washington, on June 14, 2017.
- Deputy Cesar Molina along with Master Police Officer Tanner Owens responded to the call.
- Le was allegedly acting bizarre and making threats with a knife.
- The two deputies fired tasers at Le but were ineffective and managed to move towards them.
- Molina opened fire at Le and hit him three times. Le’s autopsy results revealed that he was shot twice in the back and a third time in the back of his hand.
- Officers only found a pen on his person, and he later died in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
- At a press briefing, the King County sheriff’s Use of Force Review Board concluded that the fatal incident was “justified and within department policy.”
What is I-940: The initiative, which was approved by 59.6% of Washington voters in 2018, will implement several requirements for officers in Washington.
- The initiative will change the current law that adds a level of protection for officers being criminally liable for displaying deadly force, Wacities reported.
- An officer involved in the case of deadly force will not be held liable if the following tests are met, which are the “objective good faith standard” and “subjective good faith,” according to the document posted on the Secretary of State website.
- “The objective good faith test is met if a reasonable officer, in light of all the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time, would have believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious physical harm to the officer or another individual,” the document explains.
- “The subjective good faith test is met if the officer intended to use deadly force for a lawful purpose and sincerely and in good faith believed that the use of deadly force was warranted in the circumstance.”
- In addition, officers are required to receive violence de-escalation and mental health training.