Tommy Le, 20, was considered “an easy person to talk to about anything” by his classmates at Career Link. About 45 of his classmates were preparing to graduate from the South Seattle College alternative high school program when he was nowhere to be found. Given how far he’d come for this moment, his absence was troubling. Little did they know, he had been shot and killed by a King County sheriff’s deputy.
The Seattle Times reports that a homeowner had called authorities about a man with a sharp object, possibly a knife. The caller said he fired a warning shot into the ground, but the barefoot let kept moving forward, banged on the door and stabbed it while screaming he was “the Creator.”
When deputies confronted Le, two of them fired their tasers, while only one connected. The deputies claim the taser had no effect and one shot him three times. He later died at a local hospital. A week later, the sheriff’s office reported that Le was actually holding a pen that night, not a knife.
“I’m so angry,”said Le’s father, Sunny Le. “I want to know what happened to my son.”
Tommy was known for having a clean record with Career Link, after dropping out of high school because he felt classes were too hard and classes were too big for his liking.
“In a school that works entirely with dropouts, we get interesting kids,” said Curt Peterson, Career Link director. “I could tell you 100 people I would have imagined this happening to before him … If we had a discipline file on Tommy it would be completely empty. He was the sweetest kid in the world. He didn’t have an aggressive bone in his body.”
The only concerns about Le were a string of absences and a lack of a consistent living situation, which he regularly wrote about for class. Le was currently living with a friend about a block away from where the shooting took place. However, his father disagrees that his son was ever homeless or unwelcome to come back and live with his family.
“I miss everything about him,” Sunny Le said.
Le says a sheriff’s detective told him Tommy may have been drunk the night he was shot. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West suspects that, given his erratic behavior, he may have been on drugs. The results of a toxicology report haven’t been released yet.
Le’s death will likely be used as another example of the negative outcomes of law enforcement officers interacting with people who are either mentally ill or mentally unsound.