Asian Student Fatally Shot By Police Night Before High School Graduation


Tommy Le was shot by police officers who confused the pen he was holding for a dangerous sharp object

20-year-old Vietnamese-American Tommy Le was attending classes at Career Link, an alternative high school program situated at South Seattle College.

On the night of June 13th, the King County Sheriff’s Office received several reports from concerned individuals about gunshots in a neighborhood in the city of Burien.

Deputies arrived on the scene to discover a homeowner had fired a shot after being approached by a man who was described to have been holding “a knife or some sort of sharp object”, and that the man had been chasing another individual. That man was later identified as Tommy Le.

The homeowner retreated inside and locked the door. A statement from the Sheriff’s Office stated that Le began pounding on the front door and began stabbing it with the unknown sharp object, shouting that he was “The Creator”, and that Le did not comply with orders to back away from the door and drop the sharp object he was holding.

Officers claimed tasers had no effect on Le, who only weighed around 100lbs, and Deputy Cesar Molina proceeded to shoot Le three times. Le was taken to hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Questions abound from Le’s family and community

One week after Le was shot and killed, the Sheriff’s Office revealed the sharp object Le had been wielding was not a weapon, but a pen.

Le’s father, Sunny, and his community have many questions concerning the story the Sheriff’s Office provided about his untimely death. “I’m so angry,” Sunny Le said in a statement earlier this week. “I want to know what happened to my son.”

The description from the Sheriff’s Office portraying Le as a dangerous and aggressive assailant come as a shock to Le’s friends, teachers, and classmates.

Director of Career Link Curt Peterson declared: “I could tell you 100 people I would have imagined this happening to before him. If we had a discipline file on Tommy it would be completely empty. He was the sweetest kid in the world. He didn’t have an aggressive bone in his body.”

Toxicology reports are being conducted to determine if Le was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the shooting.