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Parents called for mental health help. Police arrived and fatally shot their son.

Less than 10 seconds after officers opened the door, police shot Yong Yang in his parents’ Koreatown home while he was holding a knife during a bipolar episode.

Parents in Los Angeles’ Koreatown called for mental health help in the middle of their son’s bipolar episode this month. Clinical personnel showed up — and so did police shortly after.

Police fatally shot Yong Yang, 40, who had a knife in his hand, less than 10 seconds after officers opened the door to his parents’ apartment where he had locked himself in, newly released bodycam video shows.

Now the parents of Yang, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder around 15 years ago, have told NBC News exclusively that they are disputing part of the account captured on bodycam, in which police recount a clinician’s saying Yang was violent before the shooting on May 2.

The video, which Los Angeles police uploaded to YouTube last Thursday, captured the encounter between officers and Yang. In it, the officers demand that Yang drop a knife in his hand, and an officer, now identified by police as Andres Lopez, shoots him seconds later.

Myung Sook Yang said she initially called the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health about her son on the morning of the shooting. Members of the county’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Team responded but ultimately turned to the police for assistance. She and her husband, Min Yang, said Yong had been hearing voices and wanted to be in the apartment alone.

“The whole situation was created so that he could protect himself. That’s all. He just yelled out. People were trying to barge in, and he clearly stated that ‘you guys are not invited,’” Min Yang said.

The Mental Health Department declined to comment on the case but provided a statement about circumstances in which field-based staff members would request law enforcement support.

“Our field intervention teams are trained to de-escalate mental health crises without law enforcement involvement,” the statement said. “In instances where de-escalation through clinical means is not possible, and the person in crisis remains an imminent threat to themselves or others, despite DMH’s efforts, law enforcement will be contacted to maintain safety and attempt to keep the peace.”

Police and Lopez declined to comment. Lopez had been involved in a 2021 nonfatal shooting of a man who had a replica firearm. In October 2023, the district attorney concluded that Lopez acted in self-defense in his use of deadly force.

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The couple said it was the day before the shooting that they began to notice their son talking to himself and to voices in his head. The behavior continued into the next day, but it never turned violent.

But in a recording captured in the bodycam video, a clinician, whose name has not been released, told police on the phone that Yong Yang’s dad had said Yong had become violent.

“The father called our department only because he’s very violent and aggressive,” the clinician said. “We tried to engage him. He became aggressive, threatening me. I kind of stood away.” The clinician’s encounter with Yong Yang was not captured in the released video.

Yong Yang.
Police shot and killed Yong Yang on May 2.Courtesy family of Yong Yang / Panish Shea Ravipudi LLP

Police Capt. Kelly Muniz also said in the video that the clinician had said Yong Yang was yelling and talking to himself at his parents’ home the night before the shooting, eventually forcing the parents out of the apartment.

“He just tried to attack me and the father,” a clinician, whose face is blurred, says in the video as Min Yang, whose face is also blurred, walks into the conversation. “He became very aggressive. He tried to kick me. I walk away. He had some physical altercation.”

But Min Yang said his son was not physically violent at the time of the shooting or the night before.

“He wanted to be alone. The blinds were shut off. And no one comes in. That’s how he protects himself. He knows he’s safe inside of his residence or his parents’,” Min Yang said. “He did not push us out of my apartment the night before. He was talking strangely. That’s why we left him alone so he doesn’t have to interact with other individuals, even his parents.”

On the day of the incident, after the couple called the Mental Health Department, personnel arrived and took little time to understand Yong Yang’s symptoms, his father said. Ryan Casey, an attorney for the Yang family, said personnel spent less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds assessing and assisting Yong before they called the police.

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Min Yang added that he was standing between his son and a clinician and never witnessed any kicking or physical violence, only shouting.

“Maybe the guy felt threatened, but I don’t think my son threatened him,” he said. “If he was threatened by the mentally ill person’s remark like that, when he’s trying to barge in behind me, then he needs to study more.”

The video shows officers trying to coax Yang out of the apartment after having spoken with the clinician and Min Yang. Without success, the officers request backup and descend the apartment building’s stairs.

Bodycam video from a police supervisor, who arrives about 19 minutes later, shows her telling Min Yang that Yong Yang cannot be taken to the hospital unless he is a threat.

“Threat can be dangerous to himself and to others,” Min Yang tells the supervisor in the video.

Casey, the family attorney, said Yang was referring to 5150, the statute that stipulates a person may be detained when they are “a danger to others, or to themselves” as a result of a mental disorder.

“We believe there is much more to the conversation than the edited clip released by LAPD and that full disclosure of all camera footage from all officers is necessary,” Casey said.

The video also shows the supervisor warning Min Yang that they may have to put their hands on Yong Yang to remove him. It then shows another attempt to draw Yong Yang out of the apartment. As he refuses their entry, the supervisor tells her fellow officers, “We’re going to have a use of force.”

Later on, more video shows several officers returning to the apartment stairwell. An officer opens the apartment with the key to find Yong Yang standing in the living room with a kitchen knife. The officers shout at him, demanding he drop the knife. Yang quickly backs away from officers upon seeing them with a knife in one hand and his other hand up. He then walks toward them. Seconds later, Lopez fires several shots at Yang, who immediately drops.

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“Officers gave Yang commands to drop the knife. However, he did not comply with the officer’s commands and instead continued advancing towards them, resulting in an officer-involved shooting,” Muniz says in the video. “Yang was struck by gunfire, dropped the knife and was subsequently taken into custody.”

More bodycam video shows several officers handcuffing Yang while his body lies motionless.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the scene and pronounced Yang deceased, police said in a news release. He died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the county medical examiner’s report.

Yang’s father said he never thought police would resort to gunfire so quickly.

“I gave them the keys so that they can have access to handle the situation peacefully and quickly,” he said, adding that he assumed they would try to calm his son down and take him to the hospital.

Min Yang said that he was not given any details about what had happened in the apartment until some time later and that law enforcement did not directly contact him to tell him his son had been shot. One officer hinted at Yong Yang’s death, saying, “I’m sorry for your loss,” Min Yang said. Another officer tried to talk him down, he added, telling him things like “a police’s job is really difficult” and “don’t make a scene.” Law enforcement had not spoken directly to the family to explain what had happened, Min Yang said.

“No politician, no police said anything to me except that ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ for 16 days,” Yang said.

Min and Myung Sook Yang are calling for an independent investigation and a release of all evidence.

“I feel so sorry for my son, not just because he’s my son. He is an individual; he was scared and trying to protect himself against seemingly demons in his eyes,” Min Yang said. “I’m so sorry that he has to just move away from this world, forcefully, and his life. … How can I live without feeling sorry for the rest of my life?”

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