An 18-year-old California girl with special needs was fatally shot by a police officer after an altercation, and now, the girl’s grieving family members want answers.
San Mateo County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a 911 call made by the young woman’s family at their home. The call was placed because 18-year-old Yanira Serrano had failed to take her medication and they feared that she would harm herself with a knife she had, according to the girl's brother, Lorenzo Serrano. Instead of attempting to diffuse the situation, however, one deputy wound up turning it into a tragedy.
Deputy Menh Trieu claims that when they arrived at the home, Yanira was acting erratically and confronted the officers. Trieu says that he feared for his life when she came at him with a knife, so he had no choice but to fire his weapon. Tragically, the 18-year-old died from the shooting, and now, her family is demanding answers.
"We want answers," said Lorenzo Serrano. "Why didn't they use a Taser? We just want to know what really happened. She was really loving and caring, really sweet with my parents. I still can't believe this happened to my sister.”
Lorenzo says that the family had called a medical dispatcher to the home, but deputies arrived instead. Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt defends Trieu’s actions, saying that he did what he had to do to protect himself in that moment.
“We have deputies that were responding to the scene with the information that somebody was acting in a psychotic nature armed with a knife and won't put it down even for her own family,” said Rosenblatt. “This was an individual coming at our deputy with a knife intending to harm him," Rosenblatt said. "He should be allowed to protect himself otherwise we might be doing an interview about a deputy not going home to his family and kids.”
Lorenzo, however, believes that his sister was unjustly killed and says that they had never called the police to the home in the first place. The department is currently investigating the incident, and a memorial vigil was held in Yanira’s neighborhood on Wednesday night.