At the 43:22 timestamp in a video of a nearly two-hour King County Council meeting regarding the shooting death of Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht gets up and walks out of the room, before any members of the community speak, and before Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’s mother starts to read the last poem her son wrote before police shot and killed him in 2017.
“I have to get on to the next thing,” Johanknecht says, looking at the watch on her left wrist.
Tommy Le loved to cook and garden with his grandmother and do landscaping work with his father. He was friendly with his teachers. He loved to play chess. He had a curiosity that made him seek out deeply philosophical texts — a trait so unique that his local librarians knew him by name. And on June 14, 2017, the 20-year-old Vietnamese American student was going to attend his graduation ceremony at South Seattle College, where he had graduated from the College Career Link program just the day before.
But Le never got to attend that graduation ceremony. He never got to wear his graduation outfit. Generations of his family — some of them refugees — never got to see him achieve his dream of becoming a firefighter.
Instead, King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Deputy Cesar Molina shot the young man twice in the back and once in the back of the hand in Burien on June 13, 2017. The shots to the back killed Le.
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Wa Na Wari Announces 2021 Artist Residencies
From Wa Na Wari: Wa Na Wari, based in Seattle’s Central District, is offering three one-month-long residencies in the Wa Na Wari house where a visual artist can work and create new visual artwork. The new work will then be on view at Wa Na Wari for a two-month period after the residency. The call is open to artists over 18 years of age that identify as part of the African diaspora living in King County, Washington. Each selected artist will receive a stipend of $2,000. The application deadline is on Monday, January 11, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.
When they read the OIR Group report commissioned by King County’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight that looked into how the King County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation into Tommy Le’s death, the Le family was surprised to read how much appeared to be working in favor of the sheriff’s department and the involved deputies, Tommy Le’s aunt Uyen Le said.
“When we received the report and the findings, it’s very obvious to us — I feel like it’s common sense that a lot of these things should be in place … but they obviously were not. And it just didn’t create a fair and just situation for Tommy. I think everything seemed to be working more in the favor of the sheriff’s department,” Uyen Le told the Emerald in an interview, referencing the report’s recommendations based on its findings.
The findings — compiled into a comprehensive, 42-page-long report that was released in early September — appeared to have a similar effect on at least one King County lawmaker, when report authors Michael Gennaco and Stephen Connolly presented it at the Sept. 2 meeting of the King County Council’s Law and Justice Committee. Upon learning of the findings, Committee Chair and District 2 Councilmember Girmay Zahilay — himself an attorney — said the way in which the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) handled the investigation into Tommy Le’s shooting would appear to be “a clear obstruction of justice.”
(This article originally appeared on The C Is for Crank and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On Tuesday, a majority of the Metropolitan King County Council’s Employment and Administration Committee (which includes all nine council members) voted not to extend the contract of Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) Director Deborah Jacobs, as well as to accept the findings of an independent investigation into allegations that Jacobs made a series of inappropriate or discriminatory comments to her staff over the course of her four years with the county.