LAPD video shows officers shoot mentally ill man seconds after entering K-town home

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Los Angeles police shot a man experiencing a mental health crisis moments after officers entered his parents’ Koreatown apartment and ordered him to drop the knife he was holding, newly released body camera video of the shooting earlier this month shows.

Police had been called to remove Yong Yang, 40, from the home after a mental health clinician sent to evaluate him said he became combative. The clinician told one of the first officers to arrive on scene that Yang, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had tried to kick him, saying “He needs to go to the hospital,” according to footage of the encounter posted to the LAPD’s YouTube channel Thursday.

Yang’s parents have denied that their son was a threat to anyone, and said they intentionally avoided calling police to avoid the risk of him being harmed while acting erratically. They said during a tearful news conference last week that a Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health representative who showed up at their home instead spent less than two minutes talking to Yang before summoning armed officers to the scene.

The shooting occurred just before noon on May 2, at the Yang family’s second-story apartment in the 400 block of South Gramercy Place.

LAPD identified the officer who fired as Andres Lopez. Lopez, who joined the department in 2017, was involved in a previous on-duty shooting, when he shot and wounded a mentally ill man who was waiving what turned out to be a replica handgun outside the Olympic Division police station in 2021.

The clinician identified himself as a member of the county’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Team, or PMRT. He told officers that Yang’s behavior had forced his parents to leave their apartment and sleep in their car the night before the incident. Police explained their options to Yang’s father at the scene, saying that if they arrested him for trespassing they wouldn’t be able to put him on a on a so-called 5150 hold, a detention of up to 72 hours for those deemed a threat to themselves or others.

The officers also warned the father that they might be forced to “put their hands” on his son to remove him from the apartment, the video shows. “Yeah, I understand,” the father responded.

Prior to the shooting, a police supervisor is seen talking to Yang through the closed door, trying to convince him to come outside on his own. His incoherent responses prompted her to sigh and say to her officers, “All right, we’re gonna have a use of force,” the video showed.

Police left and returned a few minutes later, with one officer carrying a 40mm projectile launcher standing on the cluttered staircase while another officer opened the apartment door using a key, the video shows. As that officer and Lopez entered the apartment they saw Yang standing in the middle of the living room, with a kitchen knife in his hand. He began walking toward officers, who shouted at him to drop the knife, before Lopez opened fire.

The encounter lasted roughly 10 seconds.

At a news conference last week, Yang’s family called for an independent investigation of the shooting, questioning why officers didn’t use so-called less lethal weapons to try to subdue Yang, and accusing police of keeping them in the dark for hours about their son’s death. A lawyer for the parents said they are preparing to file a government claim against the city, the usual precursor to a wrongful-death lawsuit.

It was the 12th time this year that LAPD officers have opened fire while on duty, with at least half of those cases involving someone experiencing a behavioral crisis, according to a Times database of police shootings.

Three of the shootings were fatal, including a man going through what his relatives described as a bipolar episode who was shot dead during an encounter with LAPD officers at a Skid Row warehouse. Officers said at the time that they mistook the plastic fork he was holding for a knife.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.