Le's pen could "cause serious bodily injury if used to stab someone"
Deputies were found to have been justified in killing unarmed 20-year-old Tommy Le.
According to The Stranger, the King County Sheriff’s Office Use of Force Review Board concluded that the deputies who killed Tommy Le last June were justified in doing so.
According to a unanimous opinion from the sheriff’s office, 20-year-old Le may have been unarmed but he was holding an ink pen which could “cause serious bodily injury if used to stab someone”.
Le was shot by the police officer on June 13, hours before his graduation ceremony.
Deputy Cesar Molina and Master Police Officer Tanner Owens, acted within company policy when they shot and killed Le, according to the office.
“When their prior efforts using less-lethal tactics (Taser) did not stop Mr. Le from continuing to charge toward the deputies, and civilian bystanders positioned behind them, the Board concluded that Molina and Owens acted within policy when they drew their service weapons and Molina fired,” said a press released from the sheriff’s office.
“The Board concluded Molina feared Le would harm him, Owens or the people in the yard nearby, with the object he held in his hand.”
The sheriff’s office originally told the media that Le was a “knife-wielding man” who charged at the deputies who shot him. Eventually, the office said Le was holding a pen, not a knife.
According to an autopsy, Le was shot twice in the back and once in the wrist, suggesting he could not have been charging at the officers.
The review board also claimed that even if the officers knew Le was only holding a pen, they would still be justified in shooting and killing him.
“Although Deputies & witnesses were convinced Le had a knife, it is not clear that events would have evolved differently even if deputies realized that Le held a pen,” the sheriff’s office said. “A pen can be used as an improvised weapon. Aimed at vulnerable parts of the body, like the face or throat, it can cause serious bodily injury if used to stab someone.”
“In this case, Le was moving quickly toward the deputies with the object held in a clenched fist and did not acknowledge verbal commands to drop what he was holding, leading Deputy Molina to fear for his safety and the safety of others.”