Mental illness and Violence in Alameda County, California: Pass Laura’s Law

(Source: Treatment Advocacy Center Database)

Date: 5/2011
Location: Alameda, Alameda, CA
Summary: On May 30, 2011, 52-year-old Raymond Zack waded into the San Francisco Bay and drowned in the surf. Zack, who reportedly suffered from mental illness, waded into the water before dozens of onlookers, including police and firefighters, and slowly walked farther and farther from shore until he eventually succumbed after an hour in the chilly waters. Police said they did not go in because Zack was suicidal and possibly violent. Source Of Information:, 6/1/11; Mercury News, 10/14/11

Date: 8/2005
Location: Newark, Alameda, CA
Summary: On August 2, 2005, Edenar Talens, a 36-year-old man with mental illness, was shot and killed by a California Highway Patrol officer after he escaped from his parent’s car on the freeway near Newark, CA. The parents said their son, who took medication for schizophrenia and depression, didn’t seem to be himself, so they agreed to take him to the hospital. As the family drove on the freeway, Talens opened the car door and tumbled out, prompting his father to pull over and help him until emergency crews arrived. As Simeon Talens struggled to hold his son down, a Fremont fire engine and a CHP officer arrived. The officer immediately exited his car and drew his weapon, June Talens said. Her son then broke free and began walking toward the officer. While Talens kept approaching, the officer sprayed him in the face with pepper spray and then fired a single shot, she said. The 27-year-old officer, who had been with the CHP for two years, was placed on paid administrative leave.
Source Of Information: The Argus (Fremont), August 3, 2005

Date: 9/1990
Location: Berkeley, Alameda, CA
Summary: Mehrdad Dashti, 29, killed John Nicholas Cheehy, a student at the University of California at Berkeley, and took numerous other people hostage at a bar near the university campus. His demands during the standoff were described as incoherent by the police, but they involved large reparations by the government, such as the government’s ceding of several states to Dashti. Dashti had been diagnosed as a person with paranoid schizophrenia and demanded $11 trillion in reparations therefore.
Source Of Information: The Washington Post, September 28, 1990, p. A3

Date: 8/2003
Location: Oakland, Alameda, CA
Summary: On August 6, 2003, police shot and killed an East Oakland man after he stabbed an officer several times in the back and arm, investigators said. The man, who police described as mentally unstable, was identified as 47-year-old Glen H. Willis. Willis’ family told police he was a known schizophrenic and was not taking his medication. Willis’ doctor had told his sister he could possibly be a danger to himself of others and had wanted him to come in for an evaluation.
Source Of Information: Tri-Valley Herald (Pleasanton, CA), August 7, 2003

Date: /2000
Location: Oakland, Alameda, CA
Summary: Christopher Edward Benton, 31, was sentenced to two years in jail after he was convicted of violating restraining orders to keep him from harassing two KTVU-Channel 2 anchorwomen in Oakland, CA. Benton was also ordered to continue treatment to restore his mental health. Benton, who according to court records suffers from schizophrenia, could have been sentenced to as little as three to six months, but he told Alameda County Superior Court Judge Hugh Walker that he would not take any require

RecordID: 2381
Date: 8/1991
Location: , Alameda, CA
Summary: Kanuri Surgury Qawi was convicted in August 1991 of felony assault, misdemeanor assault and two counts of misdemeanor battery after attacking a couple because he believed the woman had caused the Vietnam War. He was sentenced to four years in prison and was paroled in 1993 but his parole was revoked repeatedly. In May 1994, he was arrested for violating parole after stalking a department store sales clerk who he claimed was his wife. In reality, the woman didn’t know him. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and paranoid personality disorder. Qawi’s parole expired in 1997, but a judge found he still met the law’s criteria and ordered him civilly committed for one year; his commitment at Napa State Hospital has been extended every year since then. He claims he suffers no mental illness and he refuses to take part in any treatment or therapy.
Source Of Information: The Argus, January 6, 2004

RecordID: 2028
Date: 7/2003
Location: Livermore, Alameda, CA
Summary: Josiah Jeremiah Clawson, 22, a man with a history of mental illness, was arrested on July 21, 2003, after an armed robbery in a Livermore, CA, apartment turned into an all-night standoff involving four hostages, police said. He pleaded not guilty in Superior Court. Authorities believe Clawson stormed the apartment armed with an assault weapon and demanded money and drugs. Police said evidence of drug use was found in the apartment but they had not found a connection between Clawson and any of the apartment’s occupants. Clawson, who was well known to police, had been previously convicted in August 2002 of armed robbery and terrorist threats and sentenced to one year in the county jail and five years’ probation. Clawson has two strikes on his record with convictions for making terrorist threats, armed robbery and battery on a peace officer, and faces a potential prison sentence of 125 years to life. According to court documents, he has suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder since childhood, but had not been taking his medication.
Source Of Information: Alameda Times-Star (Alameda, CA), July 22, 2003 Tri-Valley Herald (Pleasanton, CA), July 24, 2003 Tri-Valley Herald, July 30, 2003 Tri-Valley Herald, October 17, 2003

Date: 5/2003
Location: Dublin, Alameda, CA
Summary: Ryan Lee Raper, 20, a man with schizophrenia, was deemed mentally incompetent by two doctors and could spend time in a state mental facility before being tried on charges that he killed his cellmate in a Dublin, CA, prison. Raper was charged with murder stemming from the May 9, 2003, death of his Santa Rita Jail cellmate, Berkeley transient Kevin Lee Freeman, 55, who was diagnosed in his 20’s with schizophrenia and had been cited or arrested more than fifty times in recent years for public drinking. Both men were housed in a portion of the jail reserved for inmates with possible mental problems, and had been assigned to the same cell less than 24 hours before Freeman was found dead.
Source Of Information: Alameda Times-Star (Alameda, CA), July 31, 2003 East Bay Express (California), July 30, 2003 The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, CA) May 9, 2004 Alameda Times-Star, May 9, 2004 Argus (Fremont, CA) May 11, 2004

Date: 10/2004
Location: Cherrydale, Alameda, CA
Summary: Michael Scott Diamond, a man with a 20-year history of mental illness, allegedly strangled 50-year-old Dong Tran on October 7, 2004 with two rubber bicycle tire inner tubes that he had tied together. The two men were roommates at an independent living facility for people with psychiatric disabilities in Cherryland, CA. Diamond, 35, was charged with murder. His mother said he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder when he was 15. His family said Diamond would often stop taking his medication
Date: 2/2007
Location: Union City, Alameda, CA
Summary: On February 28, 2007, Han Sup Shin, 42, the man who allegedly stalked San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, was arrested in Union City on suspicion of burglarizing a house in San Ramon and then trying three times to run over a man who lived there, authorities said. San Ramon police found Han Sup Shin, 42, hiding in a closet at his parents’ Union City home, said Jimmy Lee, spokesman for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. Shin’s parents obtained a restraining order against him in 1998, saying he had been diagnosed as bipolar in 1986 and “becomes manic immediately” if he stops taking his medication, according to a statement they filed with the court. Shin had been admitted to a psychiatric facility in Fremont in December 1998 but soon fled, according to the court file. In an interview with The Chronicle, Shin said he had stopped taking prescription medicine.
Source Of Information: San Francisco Chronicle, 3/1/07

Date: 2/2007
Date: 2/2008
Location: Dublin, Alameda, CA
Summary: On February 25, 2008, Sean DeGuzman, who led police on a chase at speeds of more than 100 mph before ending up in a collision, had been released from a psychiatric facility just hours earlier. The family of DeGuzman, 22, is angry that the facility let him go with the knowledge that he has had previous violent encounters, including run-ins with police. The suspect’s father and grandmother said DeGuzman has suffered from mental illness since he was a teen, and he has been shuffled from juvenile halls to mental health facilities — only to be released and get in trouble with the law again.