Victim in 'Flying Cup' Case Cries Foul

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It was one thing when someone threw a cup of coffee into Tu Phung's sport-utility vehicle, and onto his wife, while he was driving in Fairfax County. But it was something else altogether, Phung said yesterday, when the driver then got out of his car and attacked Phung with a stun gun -- and wasn't charged.

Phung, 41, said he was driving his wife and five children from their home in Loudoun County into western Fairfax on Saturday when the episode of road rage erupted. The other driver, Allen Tat Le, 29, of South Riding was arrested on a felony charge of unlawfully throwing a missile -- the coffee cup -- at an occupied vehicle, which carries a two- to 10-year prison term upon conviction.

After a brief arraignment yesterday, Le declined to respond to Phung's accusation that he attacked Phung with a stun gun and his fists. "I don't have any independent confirmation of these facts," said Le's attorney, Thaddeus Furlong.

Le faces the same charge that Stafford County authorities pursued last month against Jessica Hall, a 25-year-old North Carolina woman who hurled a McDonald's cup full of ice into a car on Interstate 95. Hall spent about seven weeks in jail in a case dubbed the "McMissile" incident.

"This is not that case," Furlong said. "It is not 'Stafford II.' "

About 2:30 p.m., Phung and his family were driving east on Route 50 in the Chantilly area in their 2007 Chevrolet Suburban. Phung said that Le's car tried to plunge between his car and another, making Phung swerve to get out of Le's way.

Phung said the two vehicles wound up at a traffic light, with Le several cars behind him. He said Le followed him, apparently shouting. Phung said he did not respond, even as Le pulled onto the right shoulder approaching Stonecroft Boulevard. That's when the coffee cup went flying, police said.

Phung said that Le then got out of his car and kicked Phung's driver's-side door. Phung, a contractor who admits to having been in his share of scrapes, started to climb out, with his family trying to pull him back in.

Phung said Le slammed the door on his leg, then leaned into his vehicle and punched and shocked him with an electric stun gun.

Phung climbed out and exchanged blows with Le, "fighting in the left-hand lane while traffic is stopped," Phung said.

Le drove off, and Phung and his family followed, while his wife called police on a cellphone. Phung said police seemed interested only in the "missile" charge.

"I think the coffee incident is nothing compared to having a person attack me and my family," Phung said.

Officer Edward J. Azcarate, a police spokesman, said that the missile charge is a felony and that the injuries Phung showed in a televised interview did not appear to rise to the level of a felony assault.

Azcarate confirmed that Le had a stun gun and that having one is not illegal.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company