Authorities ID California police officer shot and killed in line of duty

Officer Tuan Le (courtesy of Oakland PD)

A California police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty on Friday morning while intercepting a burglary at a cannabis dispensary, according to officials.

He was identified as 36-year-old Officer Tuan Le.

"It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of Officer Tuan Le, a dedicated public servant, loving husband, and a cherished member of the Oakland community," the police department said in a statement.

Interim Police Chief Darren Allison said at an afternoon press conference that the slain officer was a four-year veteran of the police department.

"The dangers and demands of this profession are real. They come with significant sacrifice. Sadly today, one of our officers paid the ultimate sacrifice," said Allison.

Allison said a team of officers was dedicated to a burglary operation at a cannabis business in the 400 block of Embarcadero after receiving a report around 1 a.m. of a burglary in progress. When officers arrived, they cleared the scene, but then at around 4:43 a.m., they received another report of a burglary in progress at the same business.

Allison said uniformed and plainclothed officers responded to the business. At the scene, officers noticed several suspects fleeing.

During the response, one of the suspects fired a gun several times, striking the plainclothed officer as he was driving in an unmarked vehicle.

Le was transported to Highland Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead at 8:44 a.m. Officials said he was surrounded by his wife, mother, and fellow officers when he died.

"We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone and we extend our heartfelt condolences to the officer's friends, family and loved ones. Our prayers and support are with them as they navigate through this challenging period," said Allison.

There have been no arrests and homicide detectives are asking for the community's help in solving the case.

The incident marks the 54th officer killed in the police department's 170-year history.

The last time an Oakland police officer was killed in the line of duty was back in 2009 when the department lost four officers, all killed by a wanted parolee, following a routine traffic stop.

Sgt. Mark Dunakin and Officer John Hege were shot and killed by 26-year-old Lovelle Mixon during the stop. The suspect then barricaded himself inside an apartment and when a SWAT team went in after him, he shot two members, Sgt. Erv Romans and Sgt. Dan Sakai. Mixon was shot and killed by police.

Le was born in Saigon, Vietnam and later moved to Oakland. He was naturalized on September 11, 2001. He joined the Oakland police force in 2020, graduating from the 183rd police academy.

"For the past two years, Officer Le served as the Community Resource Officer (CRO) in West Oakland, where he devoted himself to strengthening the bond between law enforcement and the residents of Oakland. His tireless efforts in fostering positive relationships made a lasting impact."

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao also spoke at the news conference on Friday, saying that the loss of an officer while protecting and serving cuts deep.

"This senseless murder of a police officer, one of the guardians of our beautiful city, will not stand," Thao said. "Oakland will work tirelessly with all of our law enforcement partners for those responsible for this assault on our city and the killing of our officer."

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price also addressed the tragedy and pledged to prosecute the case.

"The deadly violence that we have experienced in Oakland in recent years has no place in Alameda County. The murder of this young officer is inexcusable," said Price. She added that her office "stands ready to prosecute whoever is responsible and hold them accountable for killing this officer."

Friday's shooting triggered a massive police response at the Embarcadero and 9th Avenue in Oakland as the crime scene stretched for blocks.

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Dozens of Oakland police officers and Alameda County Sheriff's deputies were at the scene and a large area was taped off around a crashed white truck with shattered windows and deployed airbags.

Around 5:15 a.m., entire blocks of the Embarcadero were shut down. Traffic was diverted along the Embarcadero, and only officers were allowed through. The California Highway Patrol also closed northbound Interstate 880 at 5th Avenue and the southbound 16th Avenue off-ramps.

Highland Hospital in Oakland was also surrounded by multiple officers.

An OPD chopper circled the area along the Embarcadero throughout the morning.

As news spread of the officer's death, support poured in from outside law enforcement agencies.

The San Francisco Sheriff's Office tweeted, "Our hearts are heavy this morning as we learn more details about an @oaklandpoliceca officer who was killed in the line of duty in the 400 block of Embarcadero. We grieve with our #OPD brothers and sisters and stand with you during this difficult time."