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Man fatally shot by SF police allegedly told them hospital couldn’t ‘help’ him, ‘make sure you aim’

San Francisco International Airport
  • Nelson Waynezhi Szeto, 37, was reported to authorities for suspicious behavior at San Francisco International Airport on Jan. 20.

  • Images and videos show Szeto carrying a knife and what appeared to be two handguns, which later turned out to be replicas.

  • San Francisco police arrived at the scene and negotiated with Szeto but ultimately failed, resulting in his fatal shooting.

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The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has released body camera and other footage showing the events leading up to the fatal shooting of a reportedly homeless Asian man at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on Jan. 20.

Nelson Waynezhi Szeto, 37, was reported to airport workers for suspicious behavior after he was seen acting strangely near the BART entrance to the airport’s International Terminal, as per the San Francisco Chronicle. A TSA agent then reported him to SFPD, while a frightened airport passenger may have called 911, according to SFist.

The bodycam footage was among other documented evidence presented at Monday’s virtual town hall meeting. Altogether, they show that Szeto carried a knife and what appeared to be two handguns, which later turned out to be airsoft guns.

Surveillance footage shows the officers kept their distance as a pacing Szeto took out his knife and removed a “gun” from his jacket. During the encounter, he reportedly told officers that the “hospital cannot help him.”

Police characterized the incident as “suicide by cop” since he reportedly instructed them on how to shoot him, saying “Make sure you aim.” At one point, he even conveyed respect and thanked them for their service, police said.

Szeto was also heard telling a negotiator that he had something in his throat. The negotiator in response said, “If there’s something in your throat, we can help you, just put the weapons down.”

Police said Szeto had already placed down his knife and a gun after being shot when he raised a second gun toward four officers, leading them to open fire.

“Mr. Szeto reached across his body with his right hand towards the handgun located on his left side. Mr. Szeto then raised his right arm towards the officers. Some or all of the four officers involved in this OIS discharged their firearms, which can be heard on the body-worn camera videos,” said Commander Paul Yep, according to KGO.

The California Department of Justice is now conducting a criminal investigation and an independent review. The incident is being treated as an officer-involved shooting of an unarmed person since airsoft guns are not considered deadly weapons, according to KTVU.

Szeto, initially described as an Asian man in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have said Szeto had no known home address. The SFPD’s Internal Affairs Division, the San Francisco Department of Police Accountability and the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office are also running their own investigations.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Featured Image via San Francisco Police Department

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