WARNING: The video below contains explicit language and graphic images that viewers may find disturbing.
SAN DIEGO – Video from cameras worn by law enforcement personnel attempting to serve eviction papers to a woman in Little Italy shows her charge at them with a large knife, stabbing one of them before authorities opened fire on her.
More than 10 minutes of footage was released Friday from the body-worn cameras of San Diego County sheriff’s deputies and a San Diego police officer. In all, three sheriff’s deputies and an officer discharged their service weapons in the March 3 incident, killing 47-year-old Yan Li in the hallway outside of her apartment in the Aqua Vista Tower in the 400 block of West Beech Street, police say.
A San Diego police canine unit officer suffered a stab wound to the chest and was treated at UCSD Medical Center and released that same day, according to SDPD Lt. Matt Dobbs. His name was not disclosed.
The lawmen involved in the shooting were identified as San Diego police Officer Rogelio Medina, sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Nickel and Deputies Javier Medina and David Williams. All four were placed on administrative assignment until they are cleared for duty, the sheriff’s department said.
Friday’s release includes portions of the incident captured by cameras worn by Medina, Williams, Nickel and sheriff’s Deputy Jason Bunch, who was the first on the scene.
The video picks up with Bunch knocking on Li’s door. When she answers, he asks her to confirm her name before handing her eviction paperwork. After Bunch hands her the papers, he moves to the right and notices a large knife in her right hand.
“Put your knife down,” Bunch said. “Put the f—— knife down. Put the knife down right now.”
He raises a firearm toward her when she asks, “How do I know you’re not an intruder?”
“59 and five, I have one at gunpoint. Code cover,” he radios in, before addressing her again, saying, “Put the gun down, ma’am, or I’m going to shoot you. Put the f—— gun down. Put the gun down or I will shoot you.”
At no point does it appear from the released video that Li was holding a gun. She is shown shouting at Bunch, inquiring as to how he got into the building before tossing the eviction paperwork aside and closing the door on the deputy.
Later, the video picks back up with an unnamed sheriff’s supervisor knocking on the door attempting to get her to come back out.
In the time while they were outside the apartment, the sheriff’s department said deputies heard from the building’s manager and a maintenance worker that Li had threatened them the previous day with a knife as plumbing work was taking place in her unit.
Learning that, it was determined her actions were a “threat to public safety,” the department said. They say this report gave them probable cause to arrest Li on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
It was not clear if the maintenance worker previously had reported the alleged threat from Li.
Bunch’s footage picks up again with several deputies surrounding Li’s front door. They call out her name and then open the door. Not immediately spotting her, she then appears from a bedroom down a hallway.
“Come out with your hands up,” one deputy says.
In this part of the video, Li is shouting at authorities from the bedroom but she’s not visible in the footage. One of the deputies calls out “Bean bag, bean bag, bean bag,” and then two shots are heard. The department said these were “less lethal bean bag” rounds, commonly used by law enforcement agencies to disable a subject.
That’s when Li emerges from the bedroom with the knife in hand.
She quickly surges toward the lawmen with the knife out front of her body, stabbing the San Diego police officer. That scene is captured best by Medina who’d backed out of the apartment into the hallway as Li charged forward.
Medina’s body-worn camera footage shows the deputies and officer open fire on Li, who collapses in seconds onto her chest in the hallway.
The video also appears to show Li attempt to stab a sheriff’s deputy. He’s laying on the ground next to the wounded officer, who says aloud, “I got stabbed.”
What followed, according to the sheriff’s department, was deputies providing first aid to Li for nearly 10 minutes before paramedics arrived. However, Li was pronounced dead at the scene.
San Diego police are conducting the investigation into the shooting since it happened in their jurisdiction, the sheriff’s department said. The results of the investigation are slated to be reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office and the county’s Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board.