Police: 73-year-old man shot by police was acting strangely, refused to obey orders
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK) —
The controversial police shooting of Francisco Serna, a 73-year-old grandfather who reportedly suffered from dementia led police to hold a news conference and answer questions about their on-going investigation. According to Lyle Martin, the new incoming Bakersfield Police Department chief, Serna had twice accosted neighbors in the 7900 block of Silver Birch Ave. who believed he had a gun.
"I'd like to offer my condolences to the Serna family this is a very tragic event," said Martin.
According to police, the first incident happened at around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. A neighbor told police Serna was banging on his door and windows. The neighbor recognized Serna and opened the door. Police say Serna grabbed the neighbor with one hand to drag him outside and challenging him to a fight. Serna also kept his other hand concealed inside of his jacket as if he had a gun, but one was never seen, police say. Serna eventually left the property and the neighbor did not report the incident immediately to police.
Just hours later at around 12:30 a.m. Monday, police say Serna confronted another neighbor as she was arriving home after being driven by a friend. Serna began questioning her about living in the neighborhood and demanded she open the car door so he could look inside. The woman said she saw a dark brown or black handled object that she believed was a gun inside his jacket. She ran inside her home and told her husband to call 911 because there was man with a gun outside.
"I don't know what the man's problem is, I don't know if he's on drugs, but he's brandishing a firearm," said the husband to the 911 operator. "OK, what kind of gun was it?" asks the 911 operator. The man responds saying, "It looked like a revolver. I'm not for sure, but he's brandishing it in front of women."
Officers arrived on scene at around 12:41 and were speaking to the woman and her husband in their yard. The woman then spots Serna coming out of his house across the street and points him out to officers. Police say Serna began walking toward officers with both hands in his pockets.
"Mister Serna began walking across the street while officers are yelling commands at him to take his hands out of his jacket and to stop," said Martin.
Police add Serna failed to obey police commands and kept approaching. When he was about 15-20 feet away from officer Reagan Selman, the officer fired seven rounds at Serna who fell to the ground and died at the scene. It's not known how many times Serna was hit.
Martin said Serna was not armed and police have not recovered any weapon. Police found Serna was carrying a dark colored simulated wooden crucifix. Eyewitness News asked Martin if Serna lunged at officers or threaten them?
"Nothing that I've been told up to this point and nothing in the investigation up to this point indicates a lunging or threatening of that nature," said Martin.
Police say they were acting on reports that Serna had a gun, had his hands in his jacket and was acting strangely.
"You're being told that there's a man with a revolver whose got his hands inside his jacket and lo and behold, when you're confronted with it, there's a man coming towards you with his hands in his jacket," said Martin.
A total of seven officers were on scene, but just one officer fired his weapon. Martin said that's something the investigation will take into account.