A 73-year-old California man, who was in early stages of dementia according to his family, died right across the street from his home after Bakersfield police opened fire on the great grandfather in the early hours of Monday.
The officers were reportedly responding to a 911 call about a man with a revolver when they saw Francisco Serna coming out of his house with his hand in pocket. A neighbor shouted “that’s him” and the cops ordered the father of five to show his hands.
However, Serna ignored them. He crossed the front yard of his house and made his way towards the officers who continued yelling at him to stop, according to Assistant Police Chief of the Bakersfield Police Department Lyle Martin. The cops believed Serna was armed, so they acted the way they often do: They opened fire at him.
“When Mr. Serna got within 15 to 20 feet of [Officer Reagan] Selman, Officer Selman fired seven rounds at Mr. Serna,” Martin said during a press conference.
Serna was pronounced dead at the scene. It is unclear how many times he was struck.
Contrary to Selman’s belief, his victim did not have a gun. Instead, there was a wooden crucifix in his pocket, which he could have been holding at the time of the shooting.
“There were moments where he thought he was going to die of old age,” one of Serna’s daughters, Laura Serna, told the Time. “He was just carrying [the crucifix] around. I don’t know if it was like for his security. They could have mistaken that for a weapon.”
She was sleeping in her room upstairs when the sound of gunshots woke her up. Minutes later, her mother was knocking at her door, telling her something had happened to her father. By the time the 47-year-old, who lives with her parents, reached her father lying across the street, he was already dead.
Martin said the officers did not know about Serna’s health condition. He also added that Selman has been placed on administrative leave.
“My dad did not own a gun. He was a 73-year-old retired grandpa, just living life,” said his son, Rogelio Roy Serna. “He should have been surrounded by family at old age, not surrounded by bullets.”
According to the police, a neighbor complained that a man, later identified as Serna, stood behind her as she was taking items out of her car in front of her home and asked why she was there. Later, the woman’s boyfriend called the police and reported a man on the street holding a gun.
Earlier in the day, another neighbor reported a man, also identified as Serna, banging on his door.
The 73-year-old had reportedly showed signs of dementia since 2015 and occasionally experienced delusions. When he couldn’t fall asleep at night, he sometimes took a walk around the neighborhood.
Serna’s family, which includes five children, about a dozen grandchildren and a handful of great grandchildren, held a candlelight vigil to mourn the patriarch’s tragic passing.
“He was taken from us sooner than expected, not from a sickness but from senseless police,” Rogelio Serna added, questioning why the cops didn’t use a Taser or any other means to stop his father. “I ain’t got nothing against the police, but this needs to stop against innocent people. Enough is enough already.”
Thumbnail and Banner Image: Reuters