The emergency call came in from a nearby neighbor, living across the hall at the Mine Hill Apartments in Issaquah. He described people yelling at the top of their lungs, throwing things, a family “really going at it” for the past half hour.
He was concerned because elderly people lived there, he said. And emergency dispatchers told responding officers of the potential domestic violence incident. To officers, it was a “[domestic violence] verbal” on the lower level.
Police reports from Aug. 5, 2018 detail the officers’ accounts of what took place that day and the circumstances surrounding a recently filed lawsuit that names the city of Issaquah and responding officers as defendants.
It alleges that a 66-year-old Chinese immigrant man, Wangshen Leng, was killed after two Issaquah police officers used excessive force when none was justified. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on April 3 and lists his wife, Liping Yang, on the behalf of Leng’s estate, as a plaintiff. Leng died on Sept. 5 and his death was ruled a homicide by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. A result of “aspiration pneumonia due to post-traumatic syringomyelia cervical spinal cord that was due to blunt force injury of the neck.”
When officers arrived at the residence that day, a female answered the door and a male who appeared to be holding her from behind, the police report states. “Her t-shirt was pulled up to her chest, exposing her stomach,” one officer wrote.
Officers attempted to speak to the two individuals, they said, but a language barrier was present (the couple moved to Issaquah from China in 2010). And the male made motions for the officers to leave. Someone tried to shut the door.
“I pushed the door back open and tried to explain that we needed to make sure everyone was ok,” the officer wrote. “I began stepping into the apartment and the male became very erratic. He was waving his arms around yelling something.”
The two officers took control of Leng, they wrote. One took control of his left arm, grabbing his upper arm with his right hand and Leng’s wrist with his left. He motioned for the other officer, since Leng was struggling, the report states.
“The male was lowered to his chest on the couch.” And underneath his body was “a large sitting pillow,” the reports continues. Handcuffs were placed on Leng.
“As soon as he was handcuffed…his body went limp,” police reports state. Leng was lifted to a wooden chair and medical aid requested.
According to the lawsuit, medical testing later confirmed that the officers’ use of force broke Leng’s neck, compressed his spine and broke his cervical spine, causing irretrievable damage. And his injuries so severe that emergency surgery was required.
It was only after the officers had the assistance of the Language Line — one with trained interpreters — and were given an information card that officers were able to gain vital information on Leng’s condition.
He had an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease. And because of his condition, was unable to communicate in English or Chinese, the report states.
“During this time, [Liping] was crying and presented a card to me that had information about Alzheimer’s. I took this to mean that Wang may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease,” the report states.
And Leng was attempting to leave his home. An action that had led to him getting lost in the past, and at least two police reports being put in over his outside ventures. When he wasn’t allowed to leave, he started to yell and scream.
The King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) has an open investigation into the circumstances related to the incident.
“The actions of the Defendant Offices were obviously unconstitutional and unlawful. They killed an elderly man who had not done anything wrong,” the lawsuit states.