3-16-2022

San Diego Union-Tribune: CZ Law Founding Partner John C. Carpenter Questions Police Actions Prior to Fatal Police Shooting

A woman in the San Diego neighborhood of Little Italy was fatally shot by police officers and Sheriff’s deputies during an eviction notice visit, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. It is reported that the woman stabbed one of the officers prior to the shooting.

Carpenter & Zuckerman founding partner John C. Carpenter was approached by the San Diego Union-Tribune for legal commentary on the incident.

While Carpenter stated that the shooting appeared to be lawful due to the woman’s attack of the officers and deputies, he also said that law enforcement’s actions leading up to the incident appeared to be excessive, which included entering the woman’s home.

“This is just a classic example of unnecessary escalation of a conflict resulting in a lawful shooting,” Carpenter said. “The (deputy’s) job was done, he’s a process server ... you serve the process and then leave.”

After viewing the video footage, Carpenter described the evicted resident as “a woman in crisis who is losing her home and who is being aggravated by the situation unnecessarily by law enforcement.”

Carpenter is a seasoned civil rights and personal injury lawyer who has been serving clients for over 30 years. He has handled numerous police brutality and excessive force cases that have resulted in injury or wrongful death to his clients. As founder of CZ Law and the Truth Love Justice project, Carpenter fights to defend the rights of vulnerable citizens when they are treated unlawfully or negligently by law enforcement and other government entities.

What Happened in the Little Italy Shooting?

The incident, which was captured on the officers’ body-worn cameras, ensued when one officer rang the doorbell of 47-year-old Yan Li and gave her an eviction notice. Upon realizing Li was holding a large butcher knife or meat cleaver, Deputy Jason Bunch drew his gun and yelled at Li to drop her knife, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune article.

Li accused Bunch of being a fake police officer and demanded to see his badge. She then threw the paperwork on the floor and went back inside her unit. While waiting for backup, it is reported that the deputies learned that Li had threatened the condo complex’s manager and a maintenance worker with a knife the previous day (though it is unclear whether this alleged offense was officially reported or whether a warrant was involved).

The officers were then shown on the body-cam footage entering into the woman’s unit. They shouted “bean bag” twice and then shot multiple rounds of a less-lethal weapon. Next, the footage showed the officers falling into the hallway, Li holding a knife and then being shot, and then one of the officers shouting that he had been stabbed.

According to Carpenter, the officers should not have let the situation escalate to that level.

“That’s information they learned after the service of (the eviction notice) was complete,” he said. “They hadn’t gone there to investigate an ongoing call for an assault with a knife.”

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Li is one of four people to be shot by police or deputies in the region this year, and the third to be shot fatally.

Carpenter has seen many cases that involved police shootings and fatalities that could have been avoided had a less aggressive and more strategic approach been taken by police. He encourages all law enforcement departments to bolster their training for responding to situations of high emotional intensity, especially with individuals who may not be considered stable.

If you are in need of an experienced civil rights or personal injury attorney, call the law offices of Carpenter & Zuckerman. We have attorneys who will thoroughly investigate your case and fight to get you the justice you deserve. Fill out the form for a free consultation.

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