Skip to main content

SF police shooting video shows former Afghan interpreter charged cops with kitchen knife

A former Afghan interpreter who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder was likely in the midst of a mental health crisis when San Francisco police shot and killed him in South of Market last week.

Ajmal Amani, 41, was charging toward two officers with a kitchen knife in his hand and screaming incoherently when police shot him at around 8 a.m. last Friday, according to newly released surveillance video and body-camera footage of the shooting.

The San Francisco Police Department released the footage and audio recordings from the case at a virtual meeting Wednesday, where authorities detailed the shooting.

The encounter unfolded in a hallway of the Covered Wagon Hotel, a residential hotel where Amani lived near Fifth and Folsom streets, when officers responded to 911 calls reporting a man with a knife inside the building.

“I guess he’s having a really bad episode this morning,” one 911 caller, who police identified as a case manager for Amani, said in a recording.

Amani could be seen confronting other people inside the building with the kitchen knife before officers arrived and tried to talk to him.

“Shut the fuck up!” Amani can be heard shouting. “Leave me the fuck alone!”

Amani then ran toward the officers while “screaming unintelligibly,” police Cmdr. Paul Yep said during the virtual meeting.

The SF Standard first reported Tuesday that those officers are John Quinlan, a rookie who joined the force last March, and Danny De Leon Garcia, a three-year veteran.

Yep confirmed those names and said Quinlan fired four rounds at Amani with a pistol, while De Leon Garcia shot at him three times with a beanbag gun. Quinlan is on paid administrative leave, while De Leon Garcia is not on leave because he did not fire his gun, a police spokesperson said.

Amani was taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and pronounced dead.

During the meeting, Police Chief Bill Scott said the department puts a lot of resources toward training officers to resolve mental health incidents peacefully whenever possible.

“It’s our responsibility and goal and intention to have better outcomes and not have these types of outcomes,” he said. “We will continue to do everything in our power to do just that.”

Ajmal Amani (Courtesy photo)

Amani worked as an interpreter as a contractor with the U.S. military for at least five years before coming to the states on a visa in 2014, the SF Standard reported Tuesday.

Amani faced attempted murder and other charges after being arrested in 2019 for allegedly cutting a city park ranger in the face with a boxcutter.

His former defense attorney, Scott Grant, previously said Amani suffered from “severe” PTSD and was experiencing a mental health episode at the time of the incident.

Amani faced attempted murder and other charges. After a judge dismissed the attempted murder charge at preliminary hearing, he was placed in mental health diversion. The remaining charges against him were dismissed when he competed diversion in August.

The shooting is under investigation by multiple agencies including the San Francisco Police Department, District Attorney’s Office and Department of Police Accountability.