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DA: Bakersfield officer justified in fatal shooting of unarmed, elderly man

Francisco Serna is seen in a photo provided by his family on Dec. 12, 2016.

The Kern County district attorney said Friday that she concurs with the Bakersfield Police Department's findings that an officer was justified in the fatal shooting of an unarmed elderly man.

Francisco Serna, 73, was shot in December 2016 on Silver Birch Avenue, near Gosford and Harris roads.

DA Lisa Green said the officers were operating off reports that Serna had a gun. Serna was found only with a dark crucifix, which was possibly mistaken for a gun by a reporting party.

Serna was reportedly acting strangely that night with people on the street, which prompted a call to police. Serna's family later said he was in the early stages of dementia.

Officers arrived and yelled multiple times for Serna to show his hands. Green said Serna kept his hands in his pockets and kept walking towards the officers.


Green said multiple officers were on scene and pulled out their guns, but only Officer Reagan Selman shot because of his proximity and lack of cover in relation to Serna's position. She said their review of the circumstances and the law came to the conclusion that the officer believed he was acting in self-defense.

The officer fired seven times, hitting Serna five times, from about 15-20 feet away.

Green said no one -- from the reporting party to Serna to the officers -- did anything wrong, saying the events of that night simply unfolded in a tragic way.

Joey Williams, of Kern's chapter of Faith in the Valley, voiced his displeasure Friday afternoon about there not being a separate third-party investigation of the shooting. He said police can't be trusted to investigate their own. Green said Friday her agency did not perform their own investigation, but simply reviewed the police department's findings.

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