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Court Fines Deputy’s Legal Team For Filing Appeals In Lawsuit Over Justified Shooting

Seattle, WA – An appellate court fined the attorneys representing a King County deputy sheriff and his department for trying to appeal a civil rights case filed against them.

The 9th Circuit Court of appeals levied a $56,752.60 fine against the attorneys representing King County and King County Sheriff’s Deputy Cesar Molina for allegedly filing frivolous appeals in a supposed effort to delay trial, The Seattle Times reported.

The county has denied using the appeals process as a delay tactic, and argued the process actually provided more time for the other side to file yet another claim against the county, according to the paper.

The court ordered the deputy’s attorneys to pay the debt to the three lawyers representing the family of 20-year-old Tommy Le, who was fatally shot by Deputy Molina while allegedly chasing deputies with a ballpoint pen while strung out on hallucinogens in 2017.

The fine is intended to help offset the attorney costs and fees for Le’s family, according to The Seattle Times.

The family’s attorneys originally asked the court to give them $87,000.

Philip Talmadge, one of lawyers representing the Le family, said the county only filed the appeal to delay the $10 million civil rights lawsuit from going to trial.

The case was originally slated to go to trial in June of 2019, according to The Seattle Times.

“The taxpayers of King County are on the hook for nearly $57,000 because of a tactic used to delay trial,” Talmadge told The Seattle Times in a statement. “Hopefully, the county’s leadership and its attorneys will get the message that it’s time to resolve the case of Tommy Le’s unjustified shooting.”

Deputy Molina was the third deputy to respond to the June 14, 2017 report of a disoriented man who the caller said was possibly armed with a knife or some other sharp object, according to The Seattle Times.

Le, who was barefoot and wearing only a t-shirt and boxers, was tased by Deputy Molina and a second deputy almost immediately after they arrived, but the shocks had no effect on him, police said.

Deputy Molina ended up using his firearm to stop the attack.

The King County Sheriff’s Office Force Review Board determined the fatal shooting was justified, The Seattle Times reported.

An independent review of the internal investigation argued that Le may have been moving away from the deputies when he was shot.

The appeals were filed after U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly refused to extend qualified immunity to Deputy Molina, The Seattle Times reported.

The appellate court accused the county and Deputy Molina of wasting its time and public resources and quickly dismissed the appeals.

“Because Appellants do not accept Le’s version of the facts and fail to present a question of law, we lack jurisdiction to consider the appeal,” the judges concluded, according to The Seattle Times.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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