Man Killed By Deputy Carrying A Pen, Not A Knife

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A 20-year-old man, fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy last week after he reportedly stabbed at a Burien homeowner’s door and charged deputies with what was believed to be a knife, was actually carrying a pen, the King County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.

The sheriff’s office originally reported that Tommy Le had a sharp object and advanced on two deputies around midnight on June 13. However, sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West said Le was holding a pen.

West said the department won’t release a photo of the pen. Deputies aren’t equipped with dashboard or body cameras, she said.

Le’s death was the second deadly police shooting in King County in the past two weeks. Two Seattle police officers shot and killed Charleena Lyles, 30, on Sunday after they say she threatened them with two knives in her apartment when they responded to an alleged burglary.

Lyles’ death has sparked community outrage while Le’s death has largely gone unnoticed.

Little is known about Le, except that he lived nearby and had no criminal history, said West.

Linh Thai, director of Seattle’s Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute, told the Seattle Weekly that the Vietnamese-American community is dealing with a range of emotions.

“I think the community is struggling with two narratives. On the one hand, it’s a fellow Vietnamese-American person, a member of the community, and that them being shot dead by anyone regardless of whether it is police is difficult for the community to grapple with,” Thai told the Seattle Weekly, which first reported that Le was carrying a pen when he was killed. “It’s impacting everyone in that sense.

“On the other hand, the community also has a tradition of respecting the law. … We trust the police. They’ll tell us what happened when they’re ready to tell us.”

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