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King County to pay $5 million settlement over 2017 deadly shooting of Tommy Le

A lawyer for the family of Tommy Le. (KIRO 7 TV)

The family of Tommy Le announced Wednesday that it will be receiving a $5 million settlement from King County, stemming from a federal civil rights lawsuit over Le’s death at the hands of a King County Sheriff’s Office deputy in 2017.

Report finds ‘problematic gaps’ in investigation over death of Tommy Le

Le, a 20-year-old Vietnamese-American student, was killed after being shot twice. Deputies were first called when neighbors reported seeing Le with a sharp object threatening people, calling himself “the creator.” It was later revealed that Le was disoriented from LSD.

Deputy Cesar Molina was the third deputy to arrive and opened fire less than two minutes later, initially saying Le lunged at deputies with a knife and claimed self-defense. It was later found that Le only had a ballpoint pen when Molina fired six shots. An autopsy also revealed two of three total shots that hit Le were in the back. The third shot reportedly hit him in the wrist.

Speaking Wednesday to announce the settlement, Jeff Campiche, a lawyer for the family alleged it was “no secret that there was a cover-up.”

“The King County Sheriff’s Office covered by the truth by omitting, concealing, misstating, and even tampering with the evidence,” he said. “… In a very real sense, the settlement in this case is a victory for justice for Tommy Le — it’s the truth of what happened.”

Inquests into King County police shootings temporarily on hold

“However, we’ve got to say something here, and that is that the problem that led to the cover-up is endemic,” he continued. “That’s the reason our streets are full of our citizens demanding transparency, accountability, and reform in policing.”

This comes after a scathing report from the civilian-led Office of Law Enforcement Oversight released last September, which slammed what it described as the “incomplete factual record and the lack of rigor in the review process” by the sheriff’s office following Le’s death.

The report also pointed to “problematic gaps in the areas of fact collection, identification of systemic issues, follow through on the suggestions that were identified and scrutiny of the shooter deputy’s decision-making.”

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report

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