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Man fatally shot by police at his home in LA Koreatown, family alleges overreaction

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A mentally ill Korean-American man in his 40s was shot dead by police at his home in LA Koreatown. The family members of the deceased, who had asked the police for help in getting him to a treatment facility, are alleging police overreaction.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), at around 11 a.m. on May 2, officers received a call about a “violent male” at a multifamily residence near Gramercy Place in Koreatown.

“We received a call from a ‘mental health clinician,’” said LAPD Public Communications Officer Bruce Borihanh, adding that officers responding to the scene confronted the suspect with a knife, who an officer fatally shot.

The police had been called to the area several times before due to the suspect’s mental health issues, Borihanh added.

Relatives of a man killed in a police shooting in LA Koreatown grieve near the deceased’s home on May 2. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]

The deceased was identified as Yong Yang, 40, the son of Min Yang, who runs a university consulting company in the Los Angeles area.

“The mental health clinician called the police for help to take my mentally ill son to the hospital, and the family waited outside the house as instructed by the officers,” said Min Yang. “We explained to the arriving officers about the details of my son’s condition and asked for their help,” he continued. “Seven officers then entered the house and suddenly gunshots were heard coming from inside,” he added, “The officers knew he was mentally ill before they entered the house, and they had a Taser, but shooting him was clearly an overreaction.”

“The officer told me that my son was shot four times,” he added. “It’s hard to understand why it was necessary to shoot him that many times.”

The mother of the deceased man also called the police’s statement that her son was carrying a knife during the incident not true, saying, “He was not carrying a knife when I was in the house. He had never threatened someone with a knife before,” she said.

The twin brother of the deceased spoke to the media at the scene and said, “The officers who responded approached my brother without any support from the mental health clinician.”

“The police killed my brother,” he said in a later interview with the Korea Daily, adding that “the police are not disclosing any information despite the family’s questions.”

At this time, the police are not providing details about the circumstances that led to the shooting. The only condition for an officer to open fire is when the suspect does something that makes the officer feel sufficiently threatened, said Public Communications Officer Bruce Borihanh.

The release of the officer’s body camera footage is crucial. Depending on the outcome, it could lead to renewed scrutiny of police regulations regarding the use of deadly force.

LAPD Interim Chief Dominic Choi also expressed concern about the recent rise in officer-involved shootings when he took office in March.

“We’re going to investigate this case very carefully,” Choi told the Korea Daily on May 2, adding, “The rules for officers to shoot are when there is an immediate threat, reasonable cause to respond, and the suspect’s behavior is key.”

[jang.suah@koreadaily.com, kim.kyeongjun1@koreadaily.com]