Tommy Le’s family received strong support from politicians and activists among them Chief Editor of Runta News, Mohamud Yussuf in the middle on Sunday’s commemoration event at Seattle’s White Center Neighborhood.
By Monique Uyên Lê
Sunday, October 14, 2018 is a beautiful sunny autumn day. A day you would find yourself outside soaking up the sun, taking in deep breaths of that fresh and crisp Seattle air after the rain, watching emerald green leaves turning into an array of beautiful gold, orange and red. It is one of those days that makes you thankful to be alive: simple pleasures that are no longer afforded to a 20 year-old Vietnamese American named Tommy Le. He was shot in the back several times to his death by a King County Sheriff Deputy.
In an ethnic shopping center in South Seattle, crowds gather in front of restaurant Dalat Quan. Mainstream news media reporters Q13 News, KOMO TV, the Stranger Newspaper, Seattle Weekly… etc and ethnic media reporters gathered showing strong interest in the case of Tommy Le’s death and the recent Use of Force finding release by the King County Sheriff’s Office on August 22, 2018.
In attendance were a number of mainstream and Vietnamese community politicians and activists: WA Senator Bob Hasegawa, Michael Charles (Tim Burgess and Lorena Gonzalez’s former campaign manager and Dow Constantine’s former External Relations Specialist), attorney Ami Nguyen from Public Defenders Office, Federal Way Councilmember Hoang Tran, veteran community activists Dr. Dat Giap Tacoma Vietnamese, community Activist Kim-Long Nguyen and Lam Son Nguyen veteran community activists Sony Sewing ‘s owner, publisher Mohamud Yussuf of Runta Newspaper … etc all came to support this event, and many Northwest Vietnamese Weekly’s friends and readers.
Tommy Le’s family members were emotional as their attorneys address the crowd. Linda Tran and Jeff Campiche, legal representatives for Le’s family informed everyone that misinformation had been willfully disseminated by King County Sheriff’s Office throughout Seattle media from the inaccurate sheriff reporting of Le’s death. Particularly of interest are 2 facts:
(1) Tommy was shot in the back, which indicates that he was not “confronting the police”;
(2) Witnesses at the scene stated he was not holding anything (knife or pen) when he was shot. These 2 facts suggest the Sheriff’s report was not objective when they said after an “internal review” that Deputy Cesar Molina was justified in using unnecessary deadly force.
The officers at the scene of the shooting were armed with metal body armors, guns and taser guns, but claim they were threatened by Tommy Le’s 120 lbs, 5’4” frame. Tommy Le was weaponless and defenseless. The officers who confronted Le said they had to tase him and shot to kill him.
Apparently, Le’s life was not worth the hesitation, or the use of a less lethal force. It is important, to the family and to the greater Vietnamese community, that the true story of Tommy continue to be told.
Federal Way Council Member Councilman Hoang Tran left, and Washington State Senator Bob Hasegawa right were among the attendees.
State Senator candidate Joe Nguyen, a supporter and honored guest at this event, emphasizes the importance of fair treatment and representation of the growing Vietnamese American community in Seattle and King County. Le’s death is one of the reasons Nguyen is on the November ballot. WA State Senator Bob Hasegawa extended his pre-election welcome to State Senate candidate Nguyen, who is leading the race. Councilman Hoang Tran acknowledged Vietnamese community’s support was the reason Tran won his race in 2017. There was a certain connectedness of mainstream media and minority Vietnamese American community, of older and younger Vietnamese American generations, of civic-minded men and women – in this space, on this beautiful Sunday afternoon; that came together to support this cause.
Vietnamese Beauty Queens with Editor Mohamud Yussuf and Candidate for State Senate Seat Joe Nguyen in solidarity with the victim’s family