Driver who crashed into Chinese consulate carried knife, crossbow

By Nathan Frandino and Steve Gorman

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – A Chinese citizen who crashed his car into the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on Oct. 9 appeared to slash at a policeman with a knife as they scuffled before the officer shot him dead, newly released video of the confrontation showed on Thursday.

In addition to recovering the weapon seen wielded by the suspect – a folding knife with a 3-1/2-inch (8.9 cm) blade – officers also found a loaded crossbow with arrows in the backseat of the man’s vehicle, police said.

Footage captured by police body-worn cameras was released during a 90-minute “town hall meeting,” an online briefing the San Francisco Police Department typically presents within 10 days of any officer-involved shooting as part of its public transparency routine.

The department’s internal review of police conduct in the incident was continuing, along with a separate investigation into the overall case itself.

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said the deceased suspect, Zhanyuan Yang, 31, was a Chinese national. He made no mention of Yang’s immigration status or whether he had any connection to the consulate. A department spokeswoman said she was not at liberty to answer those questions.

Scott said police “don’t have anything further to release to the public” regarding possible motives for the attack.

According to police, Yang plowed his Honda sedan into the lobby of the consulate visa office around 3 p.m. In recordings of emergency-911 calls played during Thursday’s presentation, eyewitnesses were heard describing the driver as armed with a gun and bleeding from the head when he emerged from the vehicle.

The only weapons recovered from the scene, police said, were the knife and crossbow, which somewhat resembled a rifle.

Police said two security guards inside the consulate initially restrained Yang until police arrived minutes later.

Bodycam video showed the police sergeant and one of the guards struggling to pin Yang to a wall as he turns toward them, making what police described as “multiple, rapid, downward swinging motions” in their direction with the knife, which is visible in the footage.

As two more police officers burst into the lobby, the sergeant can be seen stepping back before he draws his weapon and shoots the suspect at close range. Yang was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Nobody else was injured, but the sergeant and others in the lobby can be heard coughing as they inhale fumes of pepper spray that police said was unleashed prior to officers’ arrival in the building. It was not made clear who fired the pepper spray.

At the time of the incident, China’s foreign mission condemned what it called a “violent attack” on the consulate, demanding a thorough investigation.

(Reporting by Nathan Frandino in Oakland, California; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)