For release on December 5, 2012
Brian Welch, Supervising Deputy District Attorney
OFFICER LAWFULLY KILLED ARMED KIDNAPPER WHO USED CHILD AS SHIELD
Prosecutors have concluded that a San Jose Police Officer earlier this year lawfully shot and killed an armed man who was holding a kidnapped 11-year-old girl as his hostage.
Using the girl as a human shield, Tri Le, a 42-year-old San Jose man with a long history of domestic violence, fired his handgun at a team of officers during a tense January 20 standoff. Officer Mauricio Jimenez charged up a narrow staircase to save the terrified schoolchild.
In the words of the highly-trained “MERGE” (similar to SWAT) officer, “One of us was going to get shot. It was a matter of who was going to get shot first: the child, the suspect, one of my teammates, or me.” Reaching the top of the stairs, Officer Jimenez shot and killed Le with a single bullet to the head.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office investigates officer-involved shootings to determine if the force employed was lawful. By law, officers are allowed to use deadly force when there is a reasonable need to protect themselves or others from an apparent, imminent threat of death or great bodily injury. “Here, Officer Jimenez killed Le while acting as a public officer and when he was attempting to rescue the victim of a forcible and atrocious crime,’’ the 24-page report concludes.
Around 1 a.m. on January 20, an armed Le burst into the San Jose home of the girl’s grandparents, fired two shots, and grabbed the child – his former girlfriend’s daughter. He announced: “Me and her are going to die tonight.” Then he fled with her.
Le holed up with his hostage in a home on Pistachio Drive in San Jose. Officers found him that morning.Holding a knife to the girl’s throat, Le shot at them from a window.
Fearing for the child’s life, officers entered the residence. After Le was killed, the child was brought to a hospital. She was unharmed during the shootout.