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Errol H T Chang, 34
Daly City, California
March 19, 2014

Agencies: Pacifica Police Department California | Daly City Police Department California

Last updated: 11 months ago

Overview Help icon

A 34-year-old man was shot and killed by a Daly City police SWAT team in Pacifica after he stabbed an officer at the end of a six-hour standoff, authorities said.

The incident began shortly before noon Tuesday when Pacifica police were summoned to a home on San Pedro Avenue by family members who reported that Errol Chang was "displaying paranoia behavior" and was possibly armed with an ax, said Pacifica police Capt. Joe Spanheimer.

Officers found Chang in the backyard, but he refused to obey their commands and brandished the ax at them, Spanheimer said. He said officers were told by Chang's relatives that he may have had access to a rifle and ammunition hidden in the house, Spanheimer said.

As a precaution, neighbors were evacuated as officers tried unsuccessfully to communicate with Chang, and as Pacifica police asked the Daly City police SWAT team to respond. They threw a phone into the home, but the man refused to use it or respond to officers talking on a public-address system, officials said.

More than six hours after the standoff began, the SWAT team used a flash-bang grenade in hopes of getting Chang to come out of the home, then made their way inside, at which point Chang stabbed one of the officers with a knife, police said.

In defense of that officer, "The subject was fired upon and was determined deceased at the scene," Spanheimer said.

Often it starts with a call for help. A family member, a caretaker or even a stranger dials 911 seeking paramedics to treat someone in a psychiatric crisis. But when there’s a threat of violence, the first responders are usually police, and what started as a call for help can quickly turn deadly for a person with a treatable illness.

That’s what happened when Christine Goias called 911 seeking help for her son, 34-year-old Errol Chang, who was in the midst of a schizophrenic breakdown at his father’s Pacifica home in March.

Community and Family Efforts Help icon

June 2014 Better treatment of the mentally ill by law enforcement protests

In March, Errol Chang, 34, a Pedro Point resident of Pacifica, died after two members of a SWAT team from Daly City shot him after a six-hour standoff with police.

On June 3, Yanira Serrano-Garcia, 18, a Moonridge Housing Complex resident of Half Moon Bay, succumbed to a single gunshot to her torso fired by a San Mateo County Sheriff's Deputy.

In both cases, the officers feared for their lives because Chang and Serrano-Garcia wielded knives. In the Chang case, one SWAT team member was injured. In the Serrano-Garcia case, no members of law enforcement were injured, according to a press release by the San Mateo County Sheriff.

Makeshift memorials covered the area near Chang's home for a long time as the community tried to come to grips with the loss of a neighbor. In Half Moon Bay last month, neighbors and civil rights activists marched down Main Street hoping to change the way the mentally ill are treated by law enforcement personnel.