On April 7, 2022, Alliance of Chinese Americans San Diego (ACA) held a press release in front of San Diego County Administration Center. At the press release, ACA announced the official statement on the recent police killing of Dr. Yan Li. Statements by an eye-witness and a mental health organization were also disclosed.
Ms. Sunny Rickard, President of ACA, first read the official statement. The statement has been sent to congressional, state and local officials, and is signed on by over 30 organizations. In the statement, ACA demands answers to many unanswered questions. One of the critical questions is about why the sheriff deputy serving the eviction notice ignored the evident mental disorder signs and escalated the situation that led to the killing of Dr. Yan Li. ACA also requests the release of the full video of the law enforcement in its interaction with Dr. Yan Li. ACA further demands an independent investigation as well as strengthening de-escalation training for law enforcement officers.
Following the ACA statement, Jeff He, a board member of ACA, read a chilling statement by an eye-witness. Mr. James Dean was a neighbor and knew Dr. Yan Li well. He was aware of Dr. Yan Li's mental health issues. Mr. Dean arrived at the scene during the eviction process. He pleaded with police to let him talk to Dr. Yan Li to calm her down. Mr. Dean was refused and ordered by police to leave. Mr. Dean told a female neighbor on the phone at the time, 'they are going to kill her!'.
Mr. Dean has provided to ACA his letter to SDPD Chief Dave Nisleit in which he details his encounter with the law enforcement officers. ACA has Mr. Dean's authorization to release the letter and his full name to the public.
ACA has also interviewed both Mr. Dean and the female neighbor who was on the phone with Mr. Dean during his entire interaction with the police. She has corroborated his recount of the interaction.
Finally, Jeff He read a statement by Ms. Cathryn Nacario, CEO of National Alliance on Mental Health San Diego and Imperial County. In the statement, Ms. Nacario emphasizes the importance of mental health and de-escalation training for our law enforcement partners:
NAMI SD/IC acknowledges unfortunate incidents like these need to be addressed within both our public health and safety communities. The events leading up to this deadly encounter also demonstrates barriers to adequate and appropriate mental health resources to support our most vulnerable population. NAMI SD/IC is always in favor of more mental health and de-escalation training for our law enforcement partners as well as the utilization of PERT and MCRT. It is often hard to understand the actual sequence of events and we encourage continued dialogue between ACA San Diego and law enforcement to try to ensure events like this don't happen again. We are sorry for the loss of Dr. Li.
(updated 4/12/2022 with media coverage below)
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Video by Tracy Wu
Photo by Xiu Yu