SEATTLE — Grief-stricken family members gripped hands on Thursday as they relived the moment they lost 20-year-old Tommy Le of Burien.
Le was killed by a King County sheriff’s deputy on June 13 in Burien.
The family says they now intend to sue over his death after finding out his autopsy results last week. They are seeking $20 million.
“He was shot straight in the back,” attorney Jeff Campiche said.
Campiche said six shots were fired and three struck Le. He says two hit him in the back and one in the back of the hand.
“If he was charging the police officers, he would have been shot in the chest,” Campiche said, referring to what the King County Sheriff's Office said of the shooting.
But some witnesses say Le did not comply with orders to stop, advancing at deputies with what appeared to be a weapon even after being hit by a Taser.
“He didn’t stop,” said one witness.
The incident all began when neighbors called 911 saying someone was coming after them with a knife.
“He tried to stab me,” said one caller.
“He tried to pursue me,” said another caller.
But by the time deputies arrived and encountered Le, family members say he did not pose a threat.
Ten days after his death, the sheriff’s office revealed that no knife was discovered on Le -- only a pen.
“Has any press been able to see the ink pen? We have not been able to see it,” Campiche said.
“They hid the fact that he was shot in the back,” aunt Xuyen Le said.
Family members say the erratic behavior described by authorities is remarkably different from what Le was like his entire life. They described Le as a young man with no criminal history, drugs or mental illness. He was described as a 20-year-old who had a love for books and his family.
Through tears, another aunt, Uyen Le, described some of her fondest moments with her nephew. They grew up in the same house and they were seven years apart.
“He was a really kind kid, he's a bookworm, he would borrow the books I was reading -- it was college and high school books,” Uyen Le said.
Deputy Cesar Molina, who fired the shots, was put on leave for some time after the incident but he is back to work.
Q13 News requested an interview with Sheriff John Urquhart and asked to see the picture of the pen. But the sheriff's office says it’s inappropriate to comment when a case is under investigation. Plus, there will be a jury inquest in this case when, the office says, more details will be revealed.