San Francisco Police Reopen Fatal 2023 Case after Receiving New Evidence; Suspect in Similar Case Arrested – Defense Warns Not to Jump to Conclusions

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By Julie McCaffrey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—San Francisco police have reopened a 2023 case where a 63-year-old woman, Yanfang Wu, was pushed to the ground from behind and died as a result from her injuries, according to KTVU News.

The assault occurred July 3, 2023, on 3rd Street and Egbert Avenue in the Bayview district of San Francisco, and KTVU News reported the case was closed in August, but recently reopened after receiving new evidence.

ABC 7 News adds that the police initially deemed the death to be accidental, noting there have been calls for the SFPD to release the footage of the 2023 incident.

SF Mayor London Breed wrote on Facebook, “I believe in transparency and stand with the API community for justice for all victims and survivors of hate incidents. As soon as possible, I want the video released.”

SFPD Chief William Scott responded on X (previously called Twitter), saying “The SFPD will release the video in this case as Mayor Breed requested… after the investigation is complete and we’ve determined it will not interfere with the investigation or potential prosecution.”

While there were no arrests made in 2023, 43-year-old Thea Hopkins was initially suspected in the attack on Wu. She is currently being reinvestigated as a potential suspect in the 2023 incident following her recent 2024 arrest, according to KTVU News.

The San Francisco Chronicle writes that Hopkins was arrested after allegedly attacking a woman, who is identified as Ruie S., 71, in court March 4, punching her several times and throwing her on the ground.

Hopkins is charged with “one count of assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury and one count of elder abuse with force likely to cause great bodily injury,” and her bail is set at $15,000, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Hopkin’s recent arrest prompted the SFPD to revisit whether she is tied to the 2023 death of Wu.

According to KTVU News, one of Hopkin’s defense attorneys, Kathleen Natividad, stated she has not seen any evidence connected to the 2023 case and emphasized the need to treat both cases as distinct instances.

Natividad said, “There’s nothing about these new allegations and charges that changes the fact that the district attorney and police deemed the 2023 incident as an accident.”

Another one of Hopkin’s defense attorneys, Deputy Public Defender Erin Morgan, who is handling the preliminary hearing for Hopkins, said, “We understand the community’s interest in this case. 

“Because it is still in the early stages of the court process, and the information that we have received and are able to provide at this time is limited, we urge the public to refrain from jumping to conclusions. Ms. Hopkins has entered pleas of not guilty and the law affords her the presumption of innocence.”

The PD continued, “We take seriously our mandate to provide a vigorous defense to all of our indigent clients, and we will be working to further assess her state of mind at the time of the incident. As my colleague and co-counsel, Deputy Public Defender Kathleen Natividad, commented last week, Ms. Hopkins herself is a vulnerable person who has struggled to stay safe in our community.”

According to the statement, Hopkins has struggled to secure housing and trauma from her past, but is actively seeking solutions, with Morgan adding, “She has been impoverished for most of her life, and has gone through long periods of being unhoused. She has struggled to survive traumas and afflictions since childhood, including being a victim of gender-based violence. 

“Despite these challenges, she has availed herself of community-based services and worked hard to recently secure her own housing for the very first time, which she fears she may lose the longer she remains in jail.”

DPD Morgan then addressed the 2023 incident, and stated, “We recognize that a separate 2023 incident, which was already investigated by SFPD and closed, has created undue speculation about Ms. Hopkins. Nothing about these new allegations changes the fact that the police and the district attorney carefully reviewed the evidence of the 2023 incident and officially deemed it to be an accident. 

“Our office has not received any information about that incident because Ms. Hopkins was never criminally charged. However tempting it may be, we strongly urge the public to not draw false conclusions based purely on speculation.”

About The Author

Julie is a third year at UC Davis majoring in Communications and Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. She hopes to advocate for women's reproductive rights and make the justice system fairer for sexual assault survivors.

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