San Francisco Police Department officials on Monday released police body camera and video surveillance footage showing the moment several officers fatally shot a man armed with two airsoft guns at San Francisco International Airport earlier this month.
The fatal police shooting killed 37-year-old Nelson Szeto and unfolded on the morning of Jan. 20, just outside the BART Station at the airport’s International Terminal.
Szeto was allegedly armed with a knife, as well as the two airsoft guns. Unlike firearms, airsoft guns shoot plastic pellets.
During a standoff with police and a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office hostage negotiator, Szeto allegedly told the officers to shoot him, according to police.
Szeto allegedly put one of the weapons down at some point. Despite officers’ orders for him to put down the second weapon, Szeto allegedly approached officers with his arm raised. Four officers then shot at Szeto, causing him to the fall to the ground.
After officers moved the handgun away from Szeto’s body, paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but Szeto was pronounced dead at the scene.
A male bystander suffered a wound to his leg and he was taken to the hospital for his non-life-threatening injury, police said.
Police have identified the involved SFPD officers as officers Erik Whitney, Oliver Lim, Steven Uang, and David Wakayama.
Police Chief Bill Scott said during the town hall meeting:
On behalf of all us at the department, our sincerest condolences to Mr. Szeto, his family, his friends, and his loved ones for the loss of life they’ve suffered.”
The California Department of Justice is conducting a criminal investigation and independent review, since the shooting is being investigated as an officer-involved shooting of an unarmed person, as an airsoft gun is not considered a deadly weapon.
California DOJ Chief John Marsh said:
We will be the filing authority for any criminal charges related to officer-involved shootings, which we are the lead investigators. … This investigation has just started.”
In addition, the San Francisco Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division, the San Francisco Department of Police Accountability, and the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office are all conducting their own investigations.
It is too early to draw any conclusions. At this point, we just put the facts out. … It is when the administrative and criminal investigations (are finished) when conclusions are drawn. And we can take whatever modifications, if anything, and move forward to make those modifications.”