Autopsy: Tommy Le Shot Twice in Back by Police for Holding a Pen | #JusticeforTommyLe

Community and family members gather at a community forum organized around the shooting of 20-year-old Tommy Le on July 19. (Photo credit: Twitter)

On June 14th, twenty-year-old Tommy Le was shot and killed just outside of Seattle, Washington by King County Sheriff’s deputy Cesar Molina. After the shooting, Molina insisted that Le was shot for approaching police aggressively while wielding an object that appeared to be a knife, and that Le further refused to comply with officer orders to drop the weapon.

That version of events is now in serious doubt after an investigation revealed that Le was actually holding a pen, not a knife, when he was shot and killed; and now, an autopsy of Le’s body further shows that Le was actually shot twice in the back, and a third time in the back of the hand. Those findings are incompatible with Molina’s insistence that Le was approaching police when he was killed.

Finally, toxicology reports show that Le was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Although it remains possible that Le was suffering a mental health crisis at the time of his killing, Le’s family say that he had no history of mental illness.

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BREAKING: Peter Liang Will Not Serve a Day in Jail for Killing Akai Gurley

Peter Liang
Peter Liang

Despite being convicted earlier this year of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Akai Gurley — an unarmed Black man — former NYPD police officer Peter Liang was sentenced today to only 5 years of probation and 800 hours of community service after the judge in his case reduced his conviction to the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. Consistent with Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s unexpectedly lenient recommendations, Liang received no jail time from Judge Danny Chun for taking Gurley’s life in 2014.

Liang’s sentencing had been delayed a week after Liang’s attorney attempted to vacate Liang’s manslaughter conviction on grounds of juror misconduct; that motion failed late last week.

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Reappropriate joins dozens of AAPI organizations in open letter seeking #JusticeForAkaiGurley

Asian Americans demonstrate in support for justice for NYPD shooting victim, Akai Gurley.

Last month, the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV) helped to organize a social media-based selfie campaign to create visibility for Asian Americans who support justice for NYPD shooting victim Akai Gurley, who was killed earlier this year by rookie police officer Peter Liang. Liang, who shot Gurley during an unsanctioned vertical patrol and who failed to perform life-saving procedures in the minutes after Gurley was wounded, was indicted by a grand jury on manslaughter charges in Akai Gurley’s death.

While many support Peter Liang’s grand jury indictment as a necessary first step in establishing accountability and oversight for police in the event of a suspicious civilian death, there are those within the Chinese American community who have interpreted Liang’s indictment as evidence of racism, comparing his indictment to the lack of an indictment for the White police officers in the shootings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

In the first week of March, an estimated two thousand Chinese American protesters marched in New York City in opposition to Peter Liang’s indictment. In the coming week, organizers hope to take those protests national, with a series of demonstrations protesting Liang’s indictment planned for cities around the country.

Not only is opposition to Peter Liang’s indictment frustratingly illogical, but these protests threaten to dominate coverage of Asian American involvement with what has become labelled America’s new Racial Justice Movement. Already, mainstream media outlets have generalized these protests as representative of all Asian Americans, erasing the sharp political divide within the Asian American community on this topic, and more specifically the countless Asian Americans who strongly support Peter Liang’s indictment and broader mechanisms of police accountability, and who stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

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