We still don’t know the motive of the man who was shot and killed after driving into the SF Chinese consulate last week, but at a town hall meeting showing the officers’ bodycam videos, we see that the suspect was indeed swinging a knife.
It was a week ago Monday when SFPD shot and killed a man who drove his car into the Chinese consulate on Geary Boulevard. We learned a few days later that driver was 31-year-old Zhanyuan Yang of San Francisco, and driving into the consulate may have been politically motivated. Eyewitnesses reportedly heard the man yelling "Where is the fucking C.C.P.?," (an abbreviation for the Chinese Communist Party). The act is being treated as an international incident, as next month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit is expected to draw President Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and scores of other diplomats.
So tensions are running unusually high. And it’s standard operating practice that SFPD holds a town hall meeting in the wake of any police shooting, but Thursday's town hall likely drew international attention, given the anxiety around the upcoming high-profile APEC summit.
Thursday’s hour-long town hall meeting can be seen above. It contains several officers’ bodycam footage of the incident, as well as multiple 911 calls that notified the police. Be warned that the bodycam footage is graphic, and begins at the at the 32-minute mark.
Other evidence was shown too. We can see why there were initial reports that Yang had a gun (which he did not), because the crossbow in his car pictured above could be mistaken for a firearm. Yang was also armed with a 3.5-inch knife, which reportedly prompted the shooting.
Acting SFPD Commander Mark Im said the department was notified at 3:08 p.m. on that day that a driver in a Blue Honda had intentionally driven the vehicle into the consulate, the driver was armed, and two security guards were holding him.
Three of those 911 calls were played in the town hall meeting. One of these was from within the consulate, with the caller saying, “A car drive into the Chine Embassy and the guy have a gun.” That same caller is heard frantically yelling to the people around him, yelled “Lock door!”
Another caller told the dispatcher “It is on purpose” and not an accident that the driver drove into the building. A dispatcher is heard confirming to another caller that Yang was “fighting with security.”
Note: There are graphic images from the bodycam video below.
When officers arrived, the atmosphere was pretty heavy with pepper spray that security guards had already used on Yang. Yang’s vision was clearly compromised, and several officers can be heard choking because of the pepper spray in the air.
Acting Commander Im said that Yang “exposed a knife in his right hand,” and made “multiple rapid downward swinging motions with the knife.” Yang was told to get on the ground, and did not. He was shot by by SFPD patrol sergeant Troy Carrasco, who can be heard afterward telling either officers or witnesses, “You guys should have told me he had a knife.”
Yang was taken to the hospital, where he died.
NEW VIDEO: Car crashes into the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco.— BNO News (@BNONews) October 10, 2023
A witness says the driver, who was shot by police, yelled "Where's the CCP?" pic.twitter.com/40g2eUsZNH
The presentation also played some footage that has already been made public via social media.
SFPD Chief Bill Scott did face a pointed question from KGO’s J.R. Stone, regarding why police shot when it appeared Yang’s vision was very much compromised by the pepper spray.
“We don’t really know what this person can see or not see,” Scott said. “Look, I’ve been pepper sprayed before. Sometimes, you can weather through that, it just depends on your resilience. We can’t assume what he could or couldn’t see.”
Police say they also found two .40 caliber fired cartridge casings in Yang’s vehicle. They have still not revealed any possible motive for Yang’s driving into the consulate.
Image via SFPD