NewsTeam 10 Investigates


One year since woman killed in officer-involved shooting in Little Italy

Little Italy OIS Dr. Yan Li
Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 03, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — One year after a woman was killed in an officer-involved shooting in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood, one community group is still trying to get answers.

On March 3, 2022 San Diego sheriff deputies were seen on body camera footage serving Dr. Yan Li with an eviction notice at her Little Italy condo.

Within seconds a deputy noticed she was holding a knife. Li closed the door and that's when the deputy calls for back up.

While the deputies were waiting for additional resources, an employee in the building told them the same woman threatened a maintenance worker with a knife the previous day, according to the San Diego Police Department.

Eventually deputies and officers forced their way in, saying at that point, she was considered a threat to public safety. Authorities used less lethal rounds first with bean bags.

But investigators said Dr. Li charged at the group and stabbed an officer in the chest. Several deputies and a SDPD officer opened fire, killing her.

RELATED: Local Chinese Americans raise questions following Little Italy officer-involved shooting

Sunny Rickard is a board member of San Diego's Alliance of Chinese Americans. They've been fighting for transparency surrounding Dr. Li's death.

Rickard says Dr. Li — a scientist and Yale graduate — suffered from mental illness.

Shortly after the shooting, the ACA released a letter. They say it was written by a neighbor who claims he tried to tell law enforcement they needed mental health professionals on scene.

Rickard doesn't deny Dr. Li was holding a knife that day and later charged at officers, but the organization has requested the release of the full body camera footage of the incident.

"There's more than 40 min, 45 minutes encounter between Dr. Yan Li and the sheriff's department. But they only released about 10 min of video," Rickard said.

RELATED: Woman identified after stabbing cop in Little Italy, prompting officer-involved shooting

Rickard and the group wants to know more about the eviction procedures, and why law enforcement needed to enter the home without a search warrant.

"Why after Dr. Li opened the door, even though she threw this notice away, the purpose of service of eviction is completed," Rickard said.

She showed ABC 10News a response she received from the sheriff's department, that said information is being "withheld due to an active criminal investigation."

Dr. Li's family filed a legal claim against the city in August, which is typically a precursor to a lawsuit. A city spokesperson said they can't comment on it.

The District Attorney's office reviews officer involved shootings. A spokesperson said this case is still under investigation.

"At this point, I think it's more important for us to seek the justice for Dr. Yan Li," Rickard said.

Team 10 reached out to the sheriff's department for an updated comment. A spokesperson said all questions need to be directed to the District Attorney's office.