When kidnapper Tri Le stormed into the home of his ex-girlfriend last year and discovered she was not there, the 42-year-old San Jose man grabbed the woman's daughter in front of horrified family members and dragged her away at gunpoint. As Le left with the terrified 11-year-old girl, he told her family, "Tonight, we're both going to die."
Le took the girl to his home in San Jose and hours later used the girl as a human shield during a shootout with police. Mauricio Jimenez, an officer with the San Jose Police Department's specialized MERGE unit, shot and killed Le after he charged up a narrow staircase toward the gunman. Le was shooting at him from point-blank range.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday announced that the fatal shooting was justified and released its findings in a detailed, 24-page report. Upon taking office in 2011, District Attorney Jeff Rosen promised to issue such reports involving all officer-involved fatal shootings in Santa Clara County.
Jimenez received his department's Medal of Honor last month for charging at the gunman on Jan. 20, 2011, and rescuing the 11-year-old girl Le had taken hostage.
In the report, officials refer to the girl as "Jane Doe."
During the altercation with police, Le held a knife to the girl's neck with his left hand and used his right hand to fire shots at officers.
The District Attorney's report concluded that Jimenez "reasonably believed there
The incident began about 1 a.m. on Jan. 20 when Le stormed his ex-girlfriend's home on Taffy Court, fired several shots and left with the 11-year-old girl. The pistol Le used was a Beretta look-alike loaded with blanks, but that would not be known until well after the hostage situation was over.
Le later sexually assaulted the girl at his home before police arrived, according to the report.
When Jimenez's tactical team arrived at Le's house about 10:20 a.m., they were met with gunfire from inside the residence. Jimenez and his team threw noise flash devices inside the front door and then went inside.
Jimenez was the first person in. He determined that the gunfire was coming from the stairway, so moved closer to the stairs and fired two shots at Le, who was not hit. Jimenez then climbed the stairs toward Le and the girl, as the gunman fired shots at point-blank range.
In the report, Jimenez said, "One of us was going to get shot. It was just a matter of who was going to get shot first: the child, the suspect, one of my teammates or me."
Jimenez also told investigators he "was certain the suspect was going to shoot me in the face as I ran up the stairs because his gun was pointed right at me, nearly point-blank range, as he was firing."
Once Jimenez reached the top of the stairs, he fired one fatal shot at Le.
Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him at Twitter.com/MarkMgomez.