Cops Who Shot and Killed Cleaver-Wielding Man in Visitacion Valley to be Nominated for Medal of Valor

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A group of San Francisco police officers who last weekend gunned down an apparently deranged man wielding a meat cleaver are to be nominated for a medal of valor by their station commander.

SFPD Captain David Lazar, who heads the Ingleside station, said in his most recent newsletter that he plans to submit the nomination. This particular award, the department's highest honor for bravery in the line of duty, was last given out in February to four officers who shot and killed Tatiana the tiger, the hapless beast that escaped from her pen at the San Francisco zoo, killing one visitor and injuring two.

In the more recent incident, officers from the Ingleside station responded to an early morning call on Saturday about a disturbed man threatening tenants with a knife in a building on Raymond Street in Visitacion Valley. Arriving, they found the suspect, 37-year-old Xiyu Li, standing at the top of a flight of stairs brandishing a meat cleaver. He was ordered in Cantonese and English to drop the cleaver, but shouted back at the officers that they'd have to shoot him.

Which, after a while, they did.

Nearly 40 minutes of cajoling and firing non-lethal "bean-bag" rounds at Li had little effect. Then he charged at officers with the cleaver, according to an account of the incident in Lazar's newsletter. "The officers believed their lives were in immediate danger," Lazar wrote, adding that "One officer fired one shot." Li was taken to the San Francisco General Hospital, where he died at 5:48 a.m.

Bay City News reported that Li's family told police he had a history of mental illness.

Sgt. Lyn Tomioka of San Francisco Police Public Affairs declined to release the names of the officers involved in the shooting, saying their identities would be kept confidential until the homicide detail concludes a routine investigation of the shooting.

Photo   |   Mark Coggins

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