Sheriff officials released footage on Friday of deputies and a police officer shooting and killing a woman last week at a condo complex in Little Italy after she stabbed a police officer while serving an eviction notice .
The videos show the first deputy almost immediately drawing his gun and threatening to shoot Yan Li, 47, when he sees her holding the knife. Later, deputies and officers burst into her unit, and after she charges them with the blade, several of them shoot her in the doorway as their colleagues fall on top of each other. others in the crowded hallway.
A civil rights attorney who viewed the footage said the shooting appeared legal because the woman attacked officers and deputies, but questioned and criticized the actions of law enforcement before the shooting.
The heavily edited video posted by the sheriff’s department depicts the events that occurred on March 3 at the Acqua Vista Condominiums on West Beech Street near State Street. It begins with body-worn camera footage of Deputy Jason Bunch knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell of Li’s condo on the fifth floor. She opens the door and Bunch confirms her name and hands her her papers.
“Here’s an eviction notice,” he said.
“What?” she replies, taking the papers.
“Here’s your take on…” Bunch begins to say when he suddenly notices Li holding a large butcher knife or meat cleaver in his right hand, beside her.
Bunch points the knife, then pulls out his handgun, saying, “Put the knife down right now or I’ll (expletive) shoot.” He continues to repeat the order, shouting, “Put the knife down. Put down the (expletive) knife,” according to the video.
Li yells at him to lower his gun. “How would I know you’re not an intruder?” she asks him.
Bunch holds her at gunpoint, yelling at her to put the gun down, alternating between calling it a knife and a gun.
“Drop your weapon, ma’am, I’ll shoot you. Lower the (expletive) gun,” he shouts.
Sheriff officials said in the video that Li accused Bunch of being an “impostor.” He can be heard shouting “Call the police”.
Bunch repeatedly tells Li to drop the knife, warning her that he will shoot her if she comes near him. Li replies that she is not afraid and does not come to him. Then she accuses him of being a fake policeman and asks him where his badge is before throwing the papers down the hall and slamming the door.
The video picks up about eight minutes later when Bunch’s supervisor arrives and Li can be heard screaming from behind the closed door. Then 40 minutes later, the video resumes with San Diego deputies and police officers with dogs preparing to enter Li’s unit.
According to police and sheriff officials, while waiting for rescue personnel, deputies learned that the previous day Li had threatened the resort manager and a maintenance worker with a knife.
“Based on this reported crime, there was a threat to public safety,” the video reads. “It’s also a probable reason to arrest Li for assault with a deadly weapon.”
Neither sheriff’s officials nor San Diego police responded to questions Friday night about whether condo complex staff had reported the alleged knife threat earlier, or whether law enforcement had sought a warrant. – or needed one – to get into Li’s apartment.
Videos from multiple body-worn cameras of several officers and deputies show them entering the condo with a key. The first deputies through the door hold less-lethal weapons as they announce themselves as members of the sheriff’s department.
In the video, Li is behind a bedroom door as deputies order him out with his hands up and dogs bark in the background. Li yells back and still holds the knife, and someone yells “bean bag” twice, and the sound of that gun being drawn sounds several times.
The less lethal bullets seem ineffective as Li charges from the chamber with the knife in hand. A chaotic scene unfolds as the deputies and officers back down the hallway, three of them falling to the ground and on top of each other as Li emerges with the knife pointed in front of her.
None of the videos released by officials clearly show that the officer was stabbed, but after Li was shot and fell face down, an officer can be heard saying he was stabbed.
Police will not identify the injured officer, who was stabbed in the chest. He was treated at UC San Diego Medical Center and released later that day.
On Wednesday, police identified the four lawmen who opened fire as the sheriff’s sergeant. Daniel Nickel, deputies Javier Medina and David Williams and policeman Rogelio Medina. Each worked for their respective department between the ages of 13 and 29.
“This is just a classic example of unnecessary conflict escalation resulting in a legal shootout,” Los Angeles civil rights attorney John Carpenter said Friday. “The (deputy’s) job has been done, it’s a process server…you serve the process and then you leave.”
Carpenter also questioned whether the alleged threat against resort employees the day before was a legal basis for entering the condo.
“It’s information they learned after the (eviction notice) was served,” Carpenter said. “They hadn’t been there to investigate an ongoing stabbing appeal.”
Carpenter said the video showed her “a woman in crisis who loses her home and is unnecessarily escalated by law enforcement.”
Neither sheriff’s officials nor the San Diego police homicide lieutenant whose unit is investigating the shooting responded to questions about the incident and the critics on Friday.
Li is the fourth person shot – including three fatally – by police or deputies in the area this year.
Three San Diego police officers shot and killed Isaac Andrade, 21, following a robbery at a liquor store in Lincoln Heights on January 10. He was armed with a gun and a knife.
On February 16, two deputies opened fire during a traffic stop in El Cajon, injuring Erik Talavera, 31. Videos showed Talavera appearing to be armed with a knife.
Three days later, a sheriff’s detective shot and killed 31-year-old Mizael Corrales in the parking lot of an Otay Mesa mall. Authorities said Corrales was driving a stolen SUV when it slammed into several rear vehicles, knocking two sheriff’s deputies to the ground.
Writer Teri Figueroa contributed to this story.