A $10 million lawsuit against King County and a sheriff’s deputy has been allowed by the Washington state appeals court to proceed on June 23rd, 2020. The lawsuit is in connection with the 2017 killing of Tommy Le, as reported by the Seattle Times.
Three-Judge Panel Issued The Ruling
The ruling was issued by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Le was a 20 year old high school student who was fatally shot by King County sheriff’s deputy Cesar Molina. Le’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in 2019.
However, Molina was allowed to appeal by US District Court Judge Thomas Zilly for regaining qualified immunity. The legal doctrine has allowed many police officers to escape liability while on the job. Qualified immunity is often used in situations where the officer had to make a life or death decision.
The appeals court’s decision has been called a giant step in the path to justice for Le by the family’s attorney, Jeffery Campiche, but not by the police community and others in society who don’t want rebellious youth causing problems in the area.
Le Was Killed on the Eve of His Graduation
Tommy Le was the oldest son of Vietnamese immigrants who escaped when Saigon fell. He was shot and killed on the 13600 block of Third Avenue South in Burien, Washington by King’s County Sherriff’s Deputies. The deputies had been called to the scene for a possible assault involving a knife.
Vietnamese youths in Sacramento and other places, for instance, have had a history of failing to adapt to American culture.
However, all they found on Tommy was a pen. The sheriff’s office did mention that three knives were found in Le’s room. Tommy was shot three times. Two of the bullet holes were found in his back. The deputy’s use of deadly force was found reasonable by the Sherriff’s Use of Force Review Board in 2018.
Campiche reported that the Le family was very disappointed in the sheriff’s resulting investigation, but were not surprised by it.
Video is Crucial Evidence in Police Brutality Lawsuits
All government officials, including law enforcement officers have a duty to serve and protect the citizens. While most officers complete their jobs with utmost dedication and concern for public safety, there are always a few overzealous officers. It’s crucial to consult with a police brutality lawyer before taking any action.
Video footage, whether body cam, patrol car, or from a cellphone can be important for establishing police misconduct and the extent of damages. However, it is possible for the video footage to not be included as evidence for various reasons. Smooth talking and experienced defense lawyers can twist the law for their nefarious purposes. Skilled police brutality attorneys on the victim’s side can help ensure that justice is served.