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San Francisco police chief to release video of 63-year-old Asian woman’s death

A woman in a red coat appears pensive beside a blurred man in police uniform.
Mayor London Breed, left, listens to San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, right, at a January 2022 press conference. | Source: Camille Cohen/The Standard

Nearly a week after San Francisco police reopened a 2023 case involving the death of a Chinese immigrant, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said the department would release video footage of the incident "after the investigation is complete and we’ve determined it will not interfere with the investigation or potential prosecution."

Yanfang Wu, a 63-year-old woman, was pushed on a sidewalk in the Bayview neighborhood last July and later died from her injuries. The SFPD ruled the incident an accident, and no arrests were made.

However, the person who is said to have pushed Wu, 43-year-old Thea Hopkins, was arrested last week for allegedly violently assaulting a 71-year-old Chinese woman. That triggered an outcry from a group of Asian American activists who demanded that law enforcement reexamine the July 2023 case and release footage of the pushing incident.

On Sunday, Mayor London Breed called for the release of the video on Facebook, following a meeting Saturday with community leaders from San Francisco's Asian American and Pacific Islander community to commemorate the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings, in which six women of Asian descent died.

"Right now law enforcement is investigating and we can’t compromise that criminal investigation or prosecution in any way," Breed wrote. "Once it’s determined releasing the video won’t do that, it should be released."

In posts to X on Sunday, Scott called the death of Yanfang Wu a tragedy and echoed the mayor's position that the department takes cases involving violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community "very seriously."

"Our investigators are working diligently on the case which is an open and active investigation," Scott wrote. "In all cases, we look for evidence of motivation—including possible hate crimes."

The chief added that the SFPD will release video of the incident after the investigation is complete, as requested by the mayor, once it was certain not to interfere with the probe or prosecution.

In a separate statement posted Sunday to Facebook, Breed acknowledged community calls for transparency surrounding Wu's death during the anniversary event.

"I believe in transparency and stand with the API community for justice for all victims and survivors of hate incidents," Breed said after attending a gathering Saturday marking the third anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings. "As soon as possible, I want the video released."

However, she added that law enforcement must first notify Wu's surviving family members before any public release to avoid retraumatizing them.

Wu’s husband, Rongan Liang, decided to move back to China after his wife’s death. A Community Youth Center staffer has been helping Liang since the incident and said Liang is currently still in China. The center will also inform him of the new developments in the case.