Mental Illness is a Factor in More Than Half of Fatal S.F. Police Shootings

By Alex Emslie and Rachael Bale

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.

“He has paranoia and he’s thinking people are wanting to assassinate him, and now he doesn’t trust anyone,” Goias told the dispatcher.

She said her son wouldn’t go with them in the car and, in response to a question, said that he had a “little ax” in his pocket. “I hoped that they would be able to come and help us to take him to the hospital,” Goias said.

Read the rest of this special investigative report on


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