Officer shoots, kills mentally ill teen after family calls for ambulance

She was armed with a knife and the sheriff's deputy said he feared for his life

By Henry Lee and Kurtis Alexander
San Francisco Chronicle

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — An 18-year-old woman with a knife was shot and killed Tuesday night by a San Mateo County sheriff's deputy near Half Moon Bay, authorities said.

The woman, Yanira Serrano-Garcia, had special needs and had stopped taking her medication, relatives said Wednesday. The family called for an ambulance Tuesday night hoping she would receive medical help, said her aunt, Irma Miramontes.

Serrano-Garcia was armed with the knife when she was confronted by a deputy shortly before 9:30 p.m. at the Moonridge housing complex on Miramontes Point Road east of Highway 1, authorities said.

"Upon arrival there was a confrontation with the subject and, fearing for his life, the deputy discharged his weapon," said Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

She said the deputy, nine-year department veteran Menh Trieu, had no choice.

Serrano-Garcia died at the scene.

Dyanna Ruiz, 12, said she had been walking to a friend's house when she saw the deputy running away from a woman who had her arm raised and was chasing him with what appeared to be a knife.

"I saw the girl running at him with something in her hands," Dyanna said. "I didn't know what was happening. I was really scared about what to do."

The deputy saw Dyanna, stopped and yelled at Serrano-Garcia, the girl said. When Serrano-Garcia kept coming at him, the deputy fired, Dyanna said.

Lorenzo Serrano asked why the deputy hadn't used other means to control his sister.

"We want answers," he told reporters. "We want to know what happened. Why didn't (the deputy) use a Taser? I don't know. There's many questions in the air. We just want to know what really happened, and we want justice, basically."

The shooting is under investigation by the Sheriff's Office and district attorney's office.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
  1. Tags
  2. 911
  3. Ambulance
  4. Fatal Incidents
  5. Mental Health
  6. Mental Illness
  7. Police

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