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Schizophrenic Man Died After Cops Tased, Choked And Beat Him, Family Says
The family of a 37-year-old man who died after being taken into police custody is accusing the El Monte Police Department of using excessive force.
The sister of the Khoa Anh Le called police at 11 pm on the night of June 14 because Le had gotten into a pushing match with his father, according to the Pasadena Star-News. She told a 9-1-1 operator about Le's mental health issues. By the time that police arrived, his family says that Le had calmed down and was sitting on his bed and using a computer. But later that evening after getting into a fight with police, Le was transported to a hospital where he died around 12:21 am.
His family plans to file a claim against the El Monte Police Department. They're comparing his death to the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas.
"I want to make sure this type of excessive force does not happen to anyone else," Hoang Huy Tu, the attorney representing Le's family, told the Star-News. "They asked the police to help. And instead they killed him."
A deputy from the sheriff's department says that Le resisted arrest and tried to assault police when they arrived.
The family's attorney told Star-News that police confronted Le on his bed and asked to see his hands. The family said they watched officers drag Le from his bedroom, strike him about 20 times with a flashlight, use a Taser on him four times and place him in a chokehold. (Deputies denied using a taser on Le.)
Many of those blows and shocks were delivered after Le had been incapacitated, his family says. His brother said that when he told the officer to stop hitting his motionless brother, the officer cursed at him before kicking Le and tasing him some more. (It wouldn't be the first time in recent memory that an El Monte Police officer kicked a man who had stopped resisting.)
"The police kicked him several times while he was down on his knees," his sister Diane Le told the Star-News.
The family told the Los Angeles Times that they believe it was the chokehold that police administered that ultimately killed him.
The coroner's office conducted an autopsy on Le's body this Monday but declined to release its findings because of a security hold, according to City News Service. The Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office are investigating the case, as they do with all officer-involved deaths.
This wasn't the first run-in that Le had with the police. He had been taken into custody for mental observation because of other disputes with family members in 2005 and 2006, including one incident where Le stabbed his brother.