Bakersfield officer cleared in shooting of unarmed man

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

The Bakersfield Police Department on Thursday announced that a use-of-force review board found no fault with an officer who shot and killed an unarmed man in December.

Francisco Serna, 73, was reportedly acting strangely and refusing officers' commands, including those to remove his hands from his pockets, when he was shot on Silver Birch Avenue.

Before police were called, Serna reportedly accosted neighbors, who thought they saw him with a gun. He was found with a dark crucifix, which was possibly mistaken for a gun.

RELATED STORY | Neighbors recount morning unarmed man was shot by police

Serna's family said he was in the early stages of dementia, and medication was causing paranoia. He would take walks around the neighborhood at night to help him sleep.

"When you're looking at something developing in less than one minute, yes, we take into consideration someone's mental state, but the reality is that a person with dementia with a gun could kill you just like someone without dementia with a gun could kill you. So, it's the totality of the circumstances," Chief Lyle Martin said Thursday. "I can't just take one single fact."

Police said the board determined all shots fired by Officer Reagan Selman were within department policy and government guidelines.

This ruling still needs to be reviewed by the Kern County District Attorney's Office. Martin also said the FBI is investigating and reviewing this case.

Family members of Serna and others gathered outside of the press conference to protest.

"He was a really nice guy, what you would call a model neighbor," said neighbor Victor Medina. "He never really gave us a hard time. He was always smiling. He was a really nice guy. We got along great."

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