Pacifica man killed by police had mental issues

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PACIFICA (BCN)

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 today.

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 today.

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 today.

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 today 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 Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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