Seattle-Area Cops Sued for Killing Unarmed, Elderly Chinese Immigrant

Issaquah, WA Officers Entered Wengsheng Leng’s Apartment Without a Warrant, Threw Him on to a Couch & Pulled His Arms Behind His Back, Breaking His Spine

SEATTLE – The widow of a slight, 66-year-old Chinese immigrant man killed late last year by two Issaquah, WA police officers filed suit in federal court here yesterday, charging the officers with using excessive force when no force was justified in an incident where no crime had occurred.

Liping Yang lost her husband of 30 years, Wangshen Leng, when officers M. Luncht and K. Whittom entered their apartment without a warrant in response to a 911 call about yelling somewhere in the apartment building.

The couple spoke little or no English, and as Mr. Leng walked about the apartment speaking in his native Cantonese, the two young, much larger officers forcibly grabbed the frail senior citizen’s arms, slammed him into a couch, pulled his arms behind his back and handcuffed him — even though no crime had been committed. At no point did the unarmed Mr. Leng pose a threat to the officers or anyone else.

To cover up their misconduct, the officers wrote sworn police reports attempting to minimize their actions, and in one of them, even claimed that there had been “no injuries” as a result of the incident, even though the officers themselves had called for emergency medical aid.

According to the suit, Mr. Leng’s injuries were so severe that they required emergency surgery. “At the time of the surgery, the outlook was bleak: at best Mr. Leng could expect to be confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life, owing to the debilitating spinal fracture and permanent orthostatic hypotension.” After the August 5 attack, Mr. Leng lingered in probable great pain for 31 days following the attack, before succumbing to his injuries on September 5. The death was ruled a homicide by County investigators.

“The actions of the Defendant Offices were obviously unconstitutional and unlawful. They killed an elderly man who had not done anything wrong,” says the suit. “In the aftermath, however, the City did not repudiate the Officers; it ratified their conduct. Among other things, the City’s supervisors approved of the Defendant Officers’ conduct and did not scrutinize their actions whatsoever….

“The City of Issaquah found no problems with the use of force or the false arrest of Mr. Leng in this case, including no departures from training. The Defendant Officers were not reprimanded or disciplined in any way for their interactions with Mr. Leng or Mrs. Yang.”

Besides his widow, Mr. Leng is survived by his children, friends, and a community of those who will miss him dearly.

Mrs. Yang is represented by David B. Owens of the civil rights firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law and Harry Williams IV of the Law Office of Harry Williams LLC.

Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms and has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. Harry Williams specializes in helping clients abused by police, prison staff, and other government actors, both as a private attorney and during his years as a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union

A copy of the suit, Estate of Wangsheng Leng, by and through administrator, Liping Yang, v. The City of Issaquah, Issaquah Police Officer M. Luncht #1201, and Issaquah Police Officer Kylen Whittom #1210, No. 2:19-cv-00490, can be found here.

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