Man shot, killed by police in Burien June 13 was holding a pen, not a knife


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The King County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim of the June 13 officer involved shooting in Burien as Tommy Le, 20, and revealed that he was armed with a pen, not a knife as originally reported.

The King County Sheriff’s Office originally said that witnesses claimed Le was armed with a knife, and that he was shouting that he was ‘The Creator’ during the tragic incident.

Two tasers were ineffective in stopping him, and he was shot and killed by a Deputy as he advanced on police.

Police received multiple calls regarding shots being fired in the 13600 Blk of 3rd Ave S. in Burien, and when they arrived on the scene multiple witnesses told them that the suspect was armed with a knife, and that he had confronted at least two people in the area before they arrived.

A resident fired a “warning shot into the ground” to try to get the suspect to stop coming at him with what was described as a knife, police said.

The suspect left the area before police arrived, but came back after they were on scene.

“When the suspect returned to the area the residents pointed the suspect out and deputies attempted to contact him,” Sgt. Cindi West told The B-Town Blog. “According to multiple witnesses the suspect charged at the deputies with something in his hand and would not obey their commands. A deputy fired a taser at the suspect as he charged at them. The taser was ineffective so another deputy fired his taser which was also ineffective. We know at least one of the tasers struck the suspect.”

The Seattle Weekly identified the deputy who fired the fatal shots as Cesar Molina. He is currently on administrative leave, as is standard procedure.

West adds:

“As the suspect continued advancing on the deputies one of the deputies fired his gun and struck the suspect three times. Later we determined the suspect was holding a pen.”

The deputy has attended the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training.

One Comment left by someone who claimed to know Le on our original story said:

“Reading some of these comments hurts my heart. While every news report and post repeatedly refers to the deceased as “Man” the sad truth is that this was a barerly 19 year old, kind, caring, compassionate kid that had a smile and spirit that could light up the darkest of spaces. I will choose to remember him for the amazing person he was DAILY rather than the one night of drug induced poor choices that ended his life. Rest in peace sweet boy.”

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Comments

13 Responses to “Man shot, killed by police in Burien June 13 was holding a pen, not a knife”
  1. Jimmy says:

    Their is a truth yet to be told prior to the Police arriving on the scene. What were the events and timeline that led to this tragedy. We should also remember, in the end he hurt nobody and the Police acted accordingly. RIP

    Rate: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 16

    • C Malone says:

      Jimmy,

      If officers have the time and ability to shoot at and hit the 19 year old with a tazer….

      Is it really too much to ask that officers, if they truly feel their lives are in danger and must use a gun to stop the unarmed attacker, shoot at the suspects legs?

      In this case, there is no reasonable evidence to show that killing the boy was reckless at the very least, and at most, murder.

      Rate: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 25

      • Captain obvious says:

        I always get a little surprised by how when a police officer does as there trained. Some people still think they did something wrong or race was involved. That it just had to be the police fault that there loved one or friend would never act in such a way. When actually the police did everything by the book. But the officer is still looked at as the bad guy for doing there job.

        P.s For the haters/trolls out there the person posting as Jimmy is a different jimmy.

        Rate: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 8

      • Joey says:

        Where to start…

        Okay, first things first: In situations like this it’s always been my understanding that, given the luxury of time, it’s incumbent on the officers to attempt various de-escalation techniques (isolating the suspect from others who may be agitating them, talking with them, etc.)

        When that fails, and if the suspect poses a serious threat in the estimation of the officers the next step would be to employ non-lethal methods to neutralize the threat posed by the suspect (physically restraining / tackling them if possible, use of OC spray, batons, tasers, etc.).

        If all non-lethal methods fail, and the suspect continues to represent a perceived serious threat of bodily harm, deadly force is the only remaining option and must be used is to neutralize the threat.

        So, that’s the first part – which I think people often miss / forget to consider.

        Folks need to understand that the police didn’t just roll up and shoot someone here: All of that process occurred, in one form or another, prior to the man being shot.

        Admitidly, sometimes with repsect to the timeline it can be a quick (or, very quick) process depending on the level of threat (i.e., if someone is pointing a gun at you, those steps fly by in a nanosecond). But the point being that in many situations, including it seems this one, it appears that non-lethal options were tried before having to resort to gunfire.

        Now on to what I really wanted to dig into when it comes to events like these: I am always confused by the “why didn’t they just shoot his leg” or “can’t they fire at their hand instead” comments that you tend to hear.

        I say that because my understanding has always been that law enforcement personnel are trained to aim for center mass and to fire until the threat of harm to themselves or others is neutralized (that may be one shot, it may be many more than that; it’s all a function of real-time, threat evaluation, as perceived by the responding officer).

        In most cases, this ends up being fatal (although not always). In this case, as soon as the perceived imminent threat had subsided, it’s been reported that the officers involved rendered first aid to the suspect. It seems reasonable to me that this action shows the officers we’re doing what they can to balance two very important things that I for one want to see in my law enforcement personnel:

        A) Their duty to protect citizens
        -and-
        B) Their duty to their fellow man to try and save a life after the situation was under control.

        But for you “aim for the leg” folks that still don’t “get it”. Consider the following:

        1) The surface area of the hand or leg is much less than that of the chest area making it much harder to hit.
        2) A suspect who is deemed to be enough of a threat to be shot at is generally not going to “hold still” and allow an officer to take careful aim at an extremity.
        3) Since the chance of being able to hit an arm or a leg is much lower, the chance of hitting something behind the suspect (property, an innocent bystander, etc.) is much greater verses when aiming at center mass.
        4) Even if an officer were able to obtain a clean shot to an arm or a leg the suspect may still be able to make it to the officer and/or an innocent bystander and cause them harm.
        5) In the case of a suspect with a gun, if you miss because you are aiming for an arm or a leg – or, even if you hit it for that matter – they still may be able to get a shot off at you or someone else.
        6) There is a much higher probability of hitting a major organ in the chest area that will cause the suspect to immediately collapse. There are no major organs in extremities.

        After you consider the above, it not only would go against training protocol, but would also be extremely risky for many reasons to NOT shoot for center-mass.

        In general, one also must consider there is also the element of time involved.
        People here the cliché of “split second decision” all the time but rarely reflect on that to imagine what that might be like in the moment.
        My hunch is that when officers are in a position to fire their service weapon to stop a threat it’s often a decision that is controlled by sheer muscle memory from training exercises where they are drilled on evaluating threats and taking decisive action against those threats in as close to real-time as possible.

        The harsh reality is that there simply isn’t time for reflective thought. We can regret that, not like it, wish it were different, etc. But none of that changes the fact at hand: This is what police officers are asked to do – Make those life and death decisions, to the best of their ability, when the duty calls on them to do so.

        In closing, none of the above is to say that the death of a human being is not a tragic and regrettable event. In fact, in every possible way, it’s absolutely horrible it came down to this.

        To that end, because of the sheer gravity of the situation, it seems to me that it is quite proper to ensure that all procedures were followed to the letter. We should review witness accounts, video / audio recordings, digest officer testimony / interviews, weigh it all against document procedure, and verify that this was handled in accordance with all laws and policies.

        A person lost their life. Let’s make sure there truly was no other option.

        Rate: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 9

        • Ltlwrn says:

          Joey’s comment should be required daily reading for every high school student. Basically, when a man with a uniform and a gun tells you to do something, you had better do it. It does not matter if you think him,or her, a racist pig or an angel from heaven. At that moment, what you think about the cop, society and your rights is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that he has a gun and is authorized and trained to use it.

          Rate: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  2. Ctac says:

    In the END. He tried to hurt people and would not stop at nothing to hurt people. At nothing!.

    Rate: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

  3. Captain obvious says:

    A pen was this just a writing pen or a letter opener/ pen combo. Also anyone know what this person was on. There’s been comments he was high on some type of drugs. I am thinking LSD or bad reaction to some magic mushrooms.

    Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11

  4. SARGE says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of the young man who lost his life in this tragic incident.
    I also would like to thank the homeowner who fired the warning shot into the ground for his restraint. Must have been a very chaotic and frightening situation to be in.

    I have deep respect for the police officers who must make these difficult decisions in split second real time. Protecting the lives of residents, each other and everyone around them is not something we should take for granted. I appreciate their efforts despite the outcome. The officer who fired the shots will likely have to re-live that night for the rest of his life. It’s not the type of thing you can just dust off and get back to work afterward.

    Even if this was drug related I seriously doubt this was a bad acid trip or the work of magic mushrooms.
    Violent behavior is not common with strong hallucinogenic drugs. Paranoia is but not physical violence.
    LSD and “shrooms” aren’t popular with teens anymore anyway. Not since the 1980’s.
    Oxy, Molly and wide variety of prescription meds typically stolen form family member’s are the common drugs of choice by todays youth. When mixed with alcohol the effects can be extremely powerful and in this case devastating.

    Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  5. Anonymous says:

    Let me start by first saying how heart broken, angry, disgusted and disappointed I am! Please don’t misunderstand me as I’m NOT feeling this way due to Tommy…. I’m 100% feeling this way towards the people/individual that signed up, trained and was put in place to PROTECT AND SERVE our community! I can’t even explain how much it hurts my heart to see MY original post of Tommy copied, plastered and re-used by the Seattle Times, News and a couple others. Let me be clear in one thing…. my post was NOT anything other than focusing on the heartache, respect and absolute care I had and HAVE for TOMMY! Reading the final report has shattered my faith in those that are supposed to be there to help in a time of desperate need. Where were you when Tommy needed you!? Were you afraid that a 19 year old barely 110 pound BOY was going to write his phone number in your forehead? PLEASE PLEASE explain to me WITH AN EDUCATED EXPLANATION of how it’s excusable or acceptable to EXECUTE a BOY for a FU*KING PEN!

    Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

    • Captain obvious says:

      Well obviously your someone that does not understand law enforcement training. The police are trained that when a person fails to comply with there verbal commands. To drop what’s in there hand no matter of the object. Put there hands where they can fully scene. Now when someone fails todo so. The police are trained to use force as in the two taser’s used before the shot was fired. After “Tommy” refused to comply and came at the police after a neighbor shot a warning shot before the police got to the scene.

      Now if you’re a situation where someone trying to hurt telling you there going kill you and there the creator. I am not to suprised by the outcome. It’s very unfortunate that”Tommy” lost his life. But it’s not the police fault that he took whatever made him act that way. Now did the police ever get called to help “Tommy” before this. Did his family ever try to get him help for his issue’s .

      Rate: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  6. Citizen10 says:

    To those of you saying people should just comply with the cops:
    What about deaf people?

    To those of you asking if the police had to help Tommy before or if he had issues, so what? You’re making big assumptions about the circumstances and what happened to this kid. You don’t even know if he took drugs, or did so willingly. Most of all, would a mental illness mean you no longer get to be part of the community and get to be protected by police??

    Also, @Captain Obvious, why are you using quotes around Tommy’s name? That seems rude.

    Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

    • Captain obvious says:

      One I don’t mean to be rude I used quotes because I don’t know the guy . Two if he was deaf he still could see and feel the bullet from neighbor gun hitting the ground by his feet. He could feel the two taser shot at him by the police. Even deaf people know to stop for the police.

      The drug part people that have comment about being his family members having stated normally a good guy. This why I was thinking it might be drugs that made him in act such a way. Or a possible mental illness. Now this was not to make fun of the situation or any thing like. I was just trying to point what could possibly be the situation here.

      Also I been followed and stop by the police being a white male with no criminal record. What happens they ask for my id I give it to them they run my name then say OK sir here is your id back and have a nice night .

      It’s when some one doesn’t want to give their id is when the police get suspicious or someone try’s to run even if it’s a friend your child’s it makes them all look bad. Or if they try talking back to the police or automatically getting a attitude with the police. Can cause the police to wonder what’s up this person. It makes them more on edge.

      Also maybe since the last person that comment like this has not responded.

      Maybe you can shed some light on why some people think all cops are bad or racist. Just because they where a badge or every time a cop fires there gun they are wrong. Even when people are breaking the law and failing to comply to the police.

      Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  7. Citizen10 says:

    My kids (in their early twenties) get followed and stopped by the cops frequently for no reason. I am afraid for my their lives. There HAS to be a better way.

    Rate: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3