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Attorney Says Pacifica Man Shot, Killed by SWAT Had Mental Health Issues

34-year-old Errol Chang died of gunshot wounds after he allegedly stabbed a SWAT member.

By Bay City News Service: 

A barricaded man who was fatally shot after allegedly stabbing a SWAT team member following a lengthy standoff in Pacifica Tuesday evening suffered from documented mental health issues, an attorney who represented the man's father in 2010 said Wednesday.

Officers responded to a report by a resident in the 300 block of San Pedro Avenue that their adult son, possibly armed with an axe, was displaying signs of paranoia at about 11:55 a.m., according to police.

When officers arrived, they found the man, identified as 34-year-old Errol Chang by the San Mateo County coroner's office, in the home's backyard.

Police said that the man brandished an axe at officers and was unable to be subdued, and he managed to get inside the home and barricade himself.

After learning the man might have armed himself with a rifle and ammunition, nearby homes were evacuated and officers attempted to communicate with the suspect with no success, police said.

SWAT team members then responded to the scene and attempted to make contact with the suspect through various means but were unsuccessful, according to police.

After more than six hours, the SWAT team went into the home. When the team got inside, the suspect, armed with a knife, stabbed one of the SWAT team members, police said.

The SWAT team responded to the suspect's attack by firing at him.  He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

The injured officer was transported to a hospital for treatment and is expected to survive. The name of the suspect has not yet been released.

Video of the incident showed Chang with his head and arms out the window of the home with his hands outstretched.

"I did understand that is what he had done but he wouldn't come out and wouldn't comply with officers' demands," police Capt. Joe Spanheimer said Wednesday.

Chang and his father, Thomas Chang, were co-defendants in a medical marijuana case in San Francisco in 2010 and were acquitted of illegal marijuana cultivation on the grounds that the marijuana was legal for medical purposes, Thomas Chang's former attorney Kenneth Quigley said Wednesday.

Quigley said that Errol Chang suffered from mental health issues, including schizophrenia, which were documented during the trial.

He said Thomas Chang is a decorated Vietnam War veteran and that while the home where the two were growing marijuana together was in San Francisco's Sunset District, Errol Chang had ties to Pacifica.

Quigley said he was outraged to hear of Errol Chang's death.

"There's no reason you have to break in and kill someone who's barricaded in a room or a house," Quigley said. "If he's not endangering someone... he's going to get tired, he's going to go to sleep, he's going to get hungry, he's going to come out eventually."

Police declined to comment Wednesday on Errol Chang's mental health.

Pacifica and Daly City police departments, as well as the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, continue to investigate the incident.


Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.
Stephanie Benoit March 21, 2014 at 12:48 PM
I understand this was a difficult situation but I'm trying to visualize how the officer got stabbed with so much firepower. How many times was he shot?
Christopher Korp March 21, 2014 at 01:34 PM
"I did understand that is what he had done but he wouldn't come out and wouldn't comply with officers' demands," police Capt. Joe Spanheimer said Wednesday. So, the police were bent out of shape because a mentally ill man did not comply to their demands, so they shot him dead after provoking an attack. According to our constitution, the police are part of the Executive branch of government and have no right to render judgment against a citizen. It is the judicial branch that does that. This was a punitive action on behalf of the police and it should be considered illegal.
Hutch March 21, 2014 at 05:12 PM
The mans family reported to police that he may know where the gun is in the house. He had already brandished an axe and then stabbing an officer was the final act that resulted in his death. This is very sad but police had to weigh citizen safety against the possibility of this individual using a gun and injuring the public or police. You should wait for all the facts before hanging the cops.
Marina Meyers March 21, 2014 at 07:14 PM
I still can't believe the police put my entire neighborhood on lockdown like there was a homicidal maniac on the loose when in reality it was a man confined in his own home and in need of medical assistance. The police made me fear for my own life while I was forced into isolation and subjected to the chaos of countless gunshots and grenades. I can't even imagine how horrific it must have been for poor Errol, who was already in desperate need of calm and sedation from the very beginning. I could not be more disgusted by how this situation was handled. I'm actually afraid of the cops now that I've seen what they're really "trained" to do. I grew up with Errol, btw. We went to Vallemar and TN together. He was soft spoken and kind, just like the rest of his family, whom I'm still close with to this day. He suffered from a mental illness and he needed HELP. All the police did was blast their way into his house to kill him and I will NEVER FORGET the sounds of it. This is absolutely unforgivable.

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