Warning: This article contains graphic video that some readers may find disturbing.
An Asian woman was fatally shot by San Diego authorities after an officer arrived at her apartment to serve her eviction notice on March 3.
The incident, which was partly caught on bodycam footage, occurred at the Acqua Vista Condominiums in the 400 block of West Beech Street in Little Italy.
Yan Li, 47, allegedly charged at and then stabbed an unidentified San Diego Police Department (SDPD) K-9 officer, which prompted another officer and three deputies with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDCSD) to shoot her.
An edited video released by the SDCSD begins with bodycam footage from Deputy Jason Bunch, who is seen serving Li’s eviction papers.
After confirming Li’s name, Bunch notices the large chef’s knife Li is holding. He immediately says: “Put the knife down right now or I’m gonna f*cking shoot.”
The scene progresses into a heated back-and-forth as Li refuses to put the knife down. She asks Bunch, “How do I know you’re not an intruder?”
Bunch, who has his gun pointed at Li, calls for backup. Seconds later, she throws away the eviction papers and shuts her door.
The arriving deputies allegedly communicated with Li for 45 minutes. During this period, the condominium’s manager and a maintenance worker reportedly claimed that Li had threatened them with a knife the day before.
Deputies entered the apartment after Li eventually opened her door. They found her in her bedroom, still holding her knife. She refused to let go of it.
One deputy deployed his “less lethal bean bag” rounds, but Li still refused to comply. Seconds later, she charged at and allegedly stabbed a SDPD K-9 officer, who was on the scene as “an additional less lethal option.”
Li continued to advance toward the deputies, prompting them to shoot her. Afterward, someone yelled, “I got stabbed!”
The SDCSD identified those who shot Li as SDPD Officer Rogelio Medina, SDCSD Sgt. Daniel Nickel and SDCSD Deputies Javier Medina and David Williams. All four were placed on administrative assignment pending investigation.
Li was pronounced dead at the scene. John Carpenter, a civil rights attorney in Los Angeles, described the incident to the San Diego Union-Tribune as “a classic example of unnecessary escalation of a conflict resulting in a lawful shooting.”
“The [deputy’s] job was done, he’s a process server… you serve the process and then leave,” Carpenter also told the outlet.
He said the video showed “a woman in crisis who is losing her home and who is being aggravated by the situation unnecessarily by law enforcement.” The Psychological Emergency Response Team (PERT) was reportedly called to the scene, but it is unknown whether they showed up.
The shooting raised questions about whether it was lawful to breach Li’s apartment based on the apartment’s employees’ claims. Carpenter claimed that the eviction notice was already served, and the authorities “hadn’t gone there to investigate an ongoing call for an assault with a knife.”
SDPD homicide detectives are reportedly investigating the case. SDPD Officer Rogelio Medina has been with the department for 13 years. Sgt. Nickel, on the other hand, has been employed by the SDCSD for 29 years, while Deputies Javier Medina and Williams have been with the SDCSD for 23 years and 14 years, respectively.
The injured K-9 officer reportedly received treatment at UC San Diego Medical Center and was later released.
Featured Image via San Diego County Sheriff’s Department