CA Hero Blows Away 18-Year-old Girl

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Police shoot teenage special-needs girl within 20 seconds of arriving to ‘help’

“Who are we supposed to call now when we need help when who is supposed to help us is killing our kids?”

Yanira Serrano-Garcia

HALF MOON BAY, CA — A family was crushed and a community is outraged after a call for help turned into a hasty death sentence for a disgruntled teenage girl with special needs.

On June 3rd, 2014, the Serrano family was having difficulty with a young female family member who suffers from a mental illness and depression. Yanira Serrano-Garcia, 18, had apparently gone off of her medication and became agitated and hard to control.

Yanira Serrano-Garcia

During past episodes, the Serrano family had called medical personnel to help them control Yanira. That Tuesday evening, they called the fired department for help once again. This time, however, police officers arrived instead of paramedics.

The family had instructed the dispatcher that the girl was acting erratically and wouldn’t put down a kitchen knife.  San Mateo County deputies responded to the scene expecting to confront an armed suspect.

Deputy Mehn Trieu was among the first responders to the housing complex at roughly 9:23 p.m.   Trieu exited his vehicle and found Yanira outside.  Within 20 seconds of arriving, he determined she was a threat and opened fire, confirmed department spokeswoman Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt.

Trieu, a 9-year-veteran, claimed that he feared for his life and had to shoot the “knife wielding woman” nearly immediately after arriving.  A family friend, however, described the object she was holding as a “butter knife.”

Yanira was struck and killed.  No one else was injured. Deputy Mehn Trieu was put on paid administrative leave.

The Half Moon Bay community calls for Justice for Yanira.  (Source: Alex Darocy / IndyBay)

The shooting sparked outrage across the community.  Yanira’s friends and family described her as having “special needs” and that police officers may not have the training to deal with people with health issues such as hers.

“[Yanira] wanted to be normal. She wanted to stop taking her medication, and I get it. Sometimes when my feet hurt I just want to be normal. I don’t want to take pills. I get her…all we want is justice,” said a friend of Yanira’s during a community march.  “Sadly, they mistook her for something she didn’t do, and a cop decided to get his gun out when he could have gotten out his taser, his pepper spray,” she said.

“I feel bad for her for what happened,” said Saul Miramontes, Yanira’s cousin. “I don’t know why this officer couldn’t understand what was going on through her life, or could have done at least something better than try to take her life away, you know?”

“She has special needs and we just want answers,” said Yanira’s brother, Tiny Serrano. “Who are we supposed to call now when we need help when who is supposed to help us is killing our kids?”

This incident represents yet another example of how calling the government to intentionally confront family members, particularly those with mental illness, often ends in unnecessary tragedy and death.  It may prove wiser to find other ways to deal with such situations, avoiding the unnecessary introduction of armed strangers who are trained to use violence to eliminate any perceived threats — real or imagined.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. I had a great reply, reasoned, built a foundation, polished the edges…
    And the effing antiquated carp systems we use here ate it. Somehow, IE 8 on windows XP does strange things without known input on my part. WTF? – does something?

    ANYWAY: Short version, if a cop can’t disarm someone when they supposedly are well-trained – including hand-to-hand combat – we either are failing completely in training cops, or we’re employing cops who are no better (IE, trained) than we are – and there is neither authority nor ability. (And authority used to be predicated on ability. IE, an authority on Unix, or an authority on health or medicine or law.)

    So these cops are in the wrong profession.

    BTW, too lazy to look it up, but supposedly, fatal interactions with cops rise when females are in that role: they are faster to resort to lethal force, more willing to use lethal force, and for far less cause.

    • Cops aren’t in a profession. They’re state functionaries, like knights or a squires.

      We don’t train cops, nor employ cops.

      That would be as ridiculous as saying slaves used to train the men whom plantation owners appointed to whip them and keep them working.

      Or that slaves were the ones who decided which men would be delegated by property owners to make sure the harvest was coming along at a good pace and everyone was following the Plantation House Rules.

      I found this helpful:

      Humanity Surprised It Still Hasn’t Figured Out Better Alternative To Letting Power-Hungry Assholes Decide Everything
      http://www.theonion.com/articles/humanity-surprised-it-still-hasnt-figured-out-bett,36361/

  2. Too bad cops don’t have access to tazers, batons, pepper spray, martial arts training or talking down an agitated person with a butter knife. Oh wait…. They do? really?

  3. [php form just hangs, so using this id, probably css or java issue on my end]

    edit:
    During past episodes, the Serrano family had called medical personnel to help them control Yanira. That Tuesday evening, they called the fired [fire] department for help once again. This time, however, police officers arrived instead of paramedics.

    the witness quotes need edits, but am unsure what professionals do in that case. I figure you add corrections in brackets, if you can. It didn’t seem that simple, so no corrections offered there, though sorely needed.

    —— my response ——

    These heroes performed as expected. They are governmental agents, not free market actors.

    To expect them to behave to anyone’s order. To expect they want to keep your business and want to keep you satisfied, is ludicrous.

    Expecting market results from a non-market entity? Makes about as much sense as saddling up a pig. Then climbing aboard, and expecting him to fly you to New York City. Like he’s your own personal executive airline avatar.

    Thank you for choosing Swine Airlines. We love to fly and squeeeeeeal!
    —— reddit responses ——
    [–]staringatmyfeet 1 point an hour ago

    To be fair though, they did tell the dispatcher she had a knife. That was just dumb on their part. The cop has no clue what is going on when he arrives, he just sees the knife told to him.

    Now that that’s said, the mother fucker should have tasered her. Bad fucking call on his part, should definitely not be on the force if your immediate reaction is to lose your cool and start shooting. If no one else was shot, I’m guessing that no one was around her… so she wasn’t a threat to anyone else. No reason to shoot someone dead if they’re a threat to themselves. No mentioning of her running at the officer either. So this is clearly a case where a trigger happy cop got caught in the act of being trigger happy. There was a butter knife rather than a real knife and now he’s exposed. You shouldn’t automatically want to kill someone, that’s a last resort.

    [–]sooovad 1 point 43 minutes ago

    they did tell the dispatcher she had a knife. That was just dumb on their part.

    Yeah, then they send unarmed and defenseless EMS to the scene. Wonderful.

    [–]staringatmyfeet 1 point 40 minutes ago

    If it truly was a butter knife as they say, there’s no reason to even really mention that. It’s a fucking butter knife. Let the ems see if they need backup.

    The girl shouldn’t have been off her medication. They should have oversight of that kind of stuff. Like making sure their sibling was well taken care of and sane. If they loved her so much, then how did they allow her to get to that point?

    [–]sooovad 1 point 34 minutes ago

    Is it just the family saying it was a butter knife, or is there a less biased source?

    And I agree, so why is everyone blaming the cop?

    [–]CalculatingCup 1 point 3 hours ago

    That Tuesday evening, they called the fired department for help once again.

    I’d sure like to see this cop transfered to that department.

    [–]Vladeath 4 points 4 hours ago

    The general public is quickly figuring out to NEVER call these violent, killer cops for ANY reason. Every cop would be in “fear for their lives” when confronted with a butter knife. Best to shoot to kill so they can return to their families….because your family sure as shit does not matter.

  4. Sad story. Mistakes made. However, every person protesting… how about trying to right what you perceive to be an inherent wrong with law enforcement and YOU try to join the force.

    Put yourselves in the shoes of those responding to a never-ending series of events, some of them being life-or-death scenarios, and show the public how to best to that extremely difficult job.

    • They won’t accept us – too intelligent, too old, too sane, too individualistic, too moral.
      The other posters here don’t follow orders they KNOW are wrong, enforce needless criminalities on regular people, or get off on assaulting and murdering people in a display of power.

      Me, I’m the black sheep, because I’m getting fed up. I want to have real choice, real responsibility, real outcomes in my life.
      Since “THEY” wish to “protect” me from all of that, “THEY” are my enemies – while people like the posters here are allies.
      I’m getting ready to “fish” rather than “cut bait.”

    • Hi Obbop,

      The basic problem is that the work involved to a very great extent no longer is peace-keeping but rather (as they themselves describe it) law enforcement.

      There is quite a bit of difference – ethically and otherwise – between the two.

      One of them being that control-freaks and bullies are more inclined to law enforcement. As Jean and other posters have already observed, people who don’t like the idea of pointing guns at people who’ve not caused anyone any harm (but who may have violated “the law”) want no part of law enforcement, either the giving or the receiving.

    • My sense of morality precludes me from joining the ranks of such an organization of cretinous subhuman churl since their primary mission is to take stuff from people at gunpoint and beat, cage or kill anyone who objects. Besides, ask any cop if he thinks he is a good, decent person and the answer will invariably be “yes”. Some may believe it, some may know it’s a lie, but the answer will be the same. To them, they are the inquisition doing gawd’s work. They are answering to a higher authority; the almighty LAW. Join that cult? No thanks.

    • Imagine what ranchers have to put up with Obbop. Animals much larger than humans, even less inclined to walk in their owner’s shoes.

      These ranchers successfully respond to a never-ending series of events, many of them being life-or-death scenarios, every day.

      The common garden variety rancher shows the public every day that they are the best option to best perform the extremely difficult job of getting mammals to do things they’re reticent to do.

      These ranchers are part of the free market. They have to do things right and at a reasonable cost. Or they’ll go out of business.

      Not so with governmental tyrants. If all these animals were nationalized. And used the police to get some of these cattle moved, do you have any doubt they would fail miserably?

      These badged and costumed Coca Cola Cowboys would pProbably gun down every dang critter in question. Put the government out of the ranching business in a hurry, and destroy all kinds of valuable animal assets for no good reason.

      The free market has always vastly out-performed the government. Isn’t it time to give this market another chance?

  5. If you ever call 911 you better get ready to meet Jesus because these “heroes” will lay you out in an instant. They’re itching for an excuse to blow somebody away. Never trust the police and never talk to them. Unless of course they torture you and force you to talk to them. That’s the voice of experience speaking.

    • Yup. Sad. But more and more people are realizing that the worst thing one can do in a bad situation is to call the cops.

      So, progress.

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