SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Members of San Diego's Chinese-American community are raising questions about the death of Dr. Yan Li, who was shot by San Diego Police and sheriff's deputies after she stabbed an officer with a knife during an eviction-serving.
The shooting happened March 3 at her Little Italy condominium on Beech Street.
"There’s actually more questions than answers in the video posted by police," said Sunny Rickard, an attorney who also serves as president of the Alliance of Chinese Americans San Diego.
As scene in body camera video released by law enforcement, a deputy arrived at Li's condo, ascertained Li's identity, then handed her the eviction notice. At that point, the deputy noticed Li was holding a kitchen knife at her side. The deputy immediately instructed her to put the knife down, while drawing his weapon and saying he would shoot her.
Rickard that language escalated the situation. “They said 'F' word. 'F' shoot you, 'F' shoot you. Is it really necessary to use that word when you serve a notice to evict?”
Rickard believes that if, instead, of threatening to shoot, the deputy had backed away and left, Li's eventual death could have been avoided. “The purpose he was there was to serve the notice to evict and that’s done. From my perspective, it’s time to leave.”
Li eventually threw the eviction notice away and shut her door. The deputy called for back-up. A supervisor arrived and the Sheriff's Department said they spent around 45 minutes trying to convince Li to peacefully surrender.
During that time, the condo manager and maintenance manager told deputies that Li had threatened them with a knife while working on the plumbing the day before. The Sheriff's Department says that at that point, Li was considered a public safety risk, with probable cause to arrest her for assault with a deadly weapon.
More back-up arrived, including San Diego police officers. They entered Li's condo and saw her still holding a knife. Bean bag rounds were fired. Li then came toward the officers, stabbing one. Multiple law enforcement personnel opened fire, striking and killing Li.
Along with raising concerns about escalation, Rickard also brought up concerns previously reported by ABC 10News from friends of Li who wondered by the mental health team known as "PERT" was not present before the officers and deputies entered the condo.
ABC 10News took that question to the San Diego Police Department. A spokesperson responded that they will not comment on the ongoing investigation.