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Attorney General's Office: Man Shot Dead by Police at SFO Armed With Replica Gun

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The fatal shooting by police of a man threatening civilians and officers at San Francisco International Airport Thursday will by investigated by the state Department of Justice because the man, who was described as armed, possessed an airsoft-type replica pistol, the attorney general's office said Friday.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Thursday the shooting triggered an state investigation pursuant to Assembly Bill 1506, which requires the DOJ to investigate "incidents of an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian," that is, anyone not in possession of a deadly weapon.

According to the statute, while all firearms and BB/pellet guns - even if unloaded or inoperable - are considered deadly weapons, replica firearms are not.

"We can confirm that preliminary investigation indicates that the decedent appeared to have been in possession of an airsoft gun, which is considered a replica gun," the attorney general's office told KPIX 5.

SFO fatal shooting
Police crime scene tape at the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting outside the BART station at San Francisco International Airport, January 20, 2022. (CBS)

On Thursday, an airport spokesman said the unidentified man was in possession of two handguns during the incident outside the airport BART station inside the International Terminal at SFO, which began as a report of a man acting suspiciously and threatening passersby.

"SFPD officers responded and the individual brandished two firearms, at which time the officers attempted to deescalate the situation. This included attempts to use non-lethal measures," said SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel.

Officers opened fire after the individual advanced in a threatening way toward officers, Yakel said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. A bystander was injured in the shooting by a ricocheting bullet and was hospitalized.

A San Francisco police spokeswoman said the shooting was being investigated by the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, the SFPD Internal Affairs Division, the San Francisco Department of Police Accountability (DPA) and the County of San Mateo Coroner's Office as is standard procedure.

Spokeswoman Officer Grace Gatpandan said additional information will be released as it becomes available. The San Francisco Police Department will hold a public town hall on the officer-involved shooting within ten days as part of department's commitment to transparency and accountability.

According to the attorney general's office, once the state DOJ investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the California Department of Justice's Special Prosecutions Section within the Criminal Law Division for independent review.

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