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Sheriff’s deputies and San Diego police officer cleared in fatal shooting of woman in Little Italy

Three county sheriff’s deputies and a San Diego police officer were vindicated last year when they fatally shot and killed a woman who stabbed an officer during a standoff in Little Italy, the district attorney’s office.

Findings released by the bureau indicate that the woman, Yan Li, posed an imminent threat when the four law enforcement officers opened fire in March 2022. She was standing and swinging a knife with an 8-inch blade towards the officer, who was injured. and on the ground.

Li, 47, was shot multiple times and died on her doorstep at the condominium complex, where deputies had tried to serve her with an eviction notice.

The Yale-trained scientist had been diagnosed with mental illness.

“The evidence is clear that the deputies and the officer … faced an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm when lethal force was used,” District Attorney Summer Stephan wrote in a letter to the chief of San Diego police, David Nisleit, and the county sheriff. Kelly Martinez.

“In this case, it is reasonable to conclude that Dr. Li was going through a mental health crisis, but Dr. Li’s actions posed an imminent threat to law enforcement officers, resulting in his tragic death,” the letter reads.

The district attorney also found that Li had the “ability, opportunity and intent” to stab deputies and police – and had stabbed one of them before.

In a press release, Stephan’s office said his findings “do not diminish the need to continue striving to improve our systems to more adequately address the mental health issues that are often present in shootings involving agent”.

The findings focus only on whether deputies and officers bear criminal liability. They do not address potential civil liability or violations of law enforcement policies.

The shooting took place on March 3, 2022 at the Acqua Vista apartments on West Beech Street. According to the district attorney’s office, the building manager said Li had been “squatting” in the apartment for about a year.

The law enforcement officer who opened fire was the Sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Nickel, deputies Javier Medina and David Williams and policeman Rogelio Medina. The officer who was stabbed has not been publicly identified.

Shortly after the shooting, San Diego police said Nickel worked for the sheriff’s department for 29 years, Javier Medina for 23, and Williams for 14. All were assigned to the local division of the ministry’s court services office.

At the time, Rogelio Medina had worked for the San Diego Police Department for 13 years and was assigned to the canine unit.

Video captured by the officers’ and deputies’ body-worn cameras shows Li opening the apartment door. A deputy hands him his papers, then a few seconds later, he sees a large knife in his right hand, at his side.

He pulls out his gun and yells, “Put the knife down now or I’ll (expletive) shoot.”

He repeats the command. Li yells at him to lower his gun.

“How would I know you’re not an intruder?” she asks him. Then she shouts: “Call the police!” After more shouting between the two, Li accuses the deputy of being a fake, throws away the paperwork, and slams the door.

According to the district attorney’s letter, the deputy called for backup during the encounter. When a sergeant arrived, the deputy told him the woman had a knife.

The letter indicates that he did not feel that a crime had been committed against him. “If that had been the only thing that happened, he would have been comfortable walking away,” the letter reads.

Building staff and management arrived and told another deputy that Li had threatened the workers with a knife a day earlier when they entered the condo to fix a leak, according to the deputy. told investigators. Law enforcement at the scene decided she posed a risk to public safety, the letter said.

The video picks up approximately eight minutes after the door closes, when the deputy’s supervisor arrives. Li can be heard screaming behind the closed door.

According to the letter, the deputies made several attempts to speak with Li. A deputy asked for a psychiatrist from the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, or PERT. None were available.

Another part of the video released by sheriff’s officials last year shows San Diego deputies and police officers with dogs preparing to enter Li’s condo less than an hour after the initial encounter.

When they enter, the deputy who served him the eviction notice is holding a pear gun. Another has a weapon that fires pepper balls, according to the district attorney’s office.

The video shows Li in a bedroom doorway holding a knife with an 8-inch blade. She does not comply with commands. A deputy shoots poof balls.

According to the district attorney, Li was hit four times with the beanbags in her chest.

In the video, she can be seen running out of the bedroom with the knife in her hand. The deputies and officers retreat to the hallway, three of them falling on top of each other and to the ground as Li emerges with the knife pointed in front of her.

The deputies and the officer open fire.

None of the videos released by officials last year clearly show the moment the officer was injured, but after Li was shot and fell, an officer can be heard saying he was stabbed.

According to the district attorney’s office, the officer – a dog handler – was stabbed in the chest and then received five stitches to close the wound. The deputy who shot him with beanbag bullets was bitten twice by a police dog during the retreat.

Li was born and raised in China, and followed her then-husband to the United States in 1997. She received a doctorate from Yale University in 2003 and later worked as a biostatistician in academic institutions and l pharmaceutical industry, friends and family said. the Union-Tribune last year.

Li’s son filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and county of San Diego in federal court in March. Earlier this week, all parties filed a joint motion asking the judge to give the city and county more time to file their legal responses.

California Daily Newspapers

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