An unarmed 73-year old grandfather, suffering from the early stages of dementia, was shot and killed by police officers on an early morning in Bakersfield, CA. The officer was responding to reports of a man with a gun, reports USA Today.
According to The Guardian, the man was shot nine times by police officers — and he was taking a walk outside of his home without a gun.
Not the First Fatal Shooting in the Area
A Guardian investigation in 2015 revealed that Kern County, California’s law enforcement had killed more people per capita than any other county in the United States. The police department and the Kern County’s Sheriff Department are the largest law enforcement agencies in the county.
In a statement, police stated that the officers had received reports of a man armed with a gun in the neighborhood. When they arrived at 12:30 am, a witness pointed out the 73-year old man standing in a driveway just before the officer shot him.
Man Was Carrying a Crucifix
The Washington Post reports that 73-year old Francisco Serna had dementia, and he had strolled out of his home onto his driveway. He was unarmed, but when police officers requested that he remove his hands from his pocket, one officer fired at him.
During the premise search that lasted until the following afternoon, police never found a gun; instead, they concluded that the man was holding a crucifix.
At the time of the press release, there was no name associated with the officer that fatally shot the man.
Serna’s family issued several statements, including one that said that their father has never carried a gun and he was opposed to firearms. Family members want to know why police just opened fire on the man without confirming he had a weapon.
Police stated that when a neighbor came home and found a man standing behind her car with his hand in his jacket pocket, she contacted the police out of concern. The neighbor never saw a gun, but she said that the man was questioning her about living in the neighborhood and demanded she open the car door so that he could look inside.
The neighbor said that she said a dark brown or black handled item that she thought was a gun from the man’s jacket pocket. When they contacted police, they reported that he was armed and said that the man brandished the gun at the women and it was a revolver.
Now the police officer that shot Serna has been identified as Officer Selman. He joined the police force in July 2015 and was relatively new still at the time of the shooting.
Family members state that Serna was going for a walk because he would normally do that at night to help him become tired and sleep.
It has not been confirmed if the neighbors that contacted the police falsified information on purpose or if it was a misunderstanding. Regardless, saying to the police that the man had a gun was what prompted them to arrive and use deadly force.