Society

'No Gun' On Man With Dementia Shot Dead By Police

| by Denise Recalde

A police officer in Bakersfield, California, shot and killed a 73-year-old man with dementia in response to a neighbor's mistaken report that the senior citizen was carrying a gun, officials stated on Dec. 13. 

The officer fired seven rounds at a confused Francisco Serna, who was killed just outside his home. When police searched the body, they found only a dark, faux wood crucifix, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

"My dad did not own a gun. He was a 73-year-old retired grandpa, just living life," said Francisco’s son, Rogelio Serna. "He should have been surrounded by family at old age, not surrounded by bullets."

Francisco's neighbor returned to her home with a friend just past midnight on Dec. 12 and found Francisco standing behind her with his right hand inside his jacket pocket, police stated. 

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Francisco reportedly wanted to verify that the two women lived in the neighborhood and asked them to open the car door so he could inspect the vehicle. The neighbor's friend did as he asked.

The neighbor said she saw a "dark brown or black handled object that she believed was a gun" and ran into her home to tell her husband to call the police, the Daily Mail reports. 

When the husband called 911, he told the dispatcher without a doubt that Francisco was armed with a gun, said Assistant Police Chief Lyle Martin. 

When police arrived at the scene, the neighbor pointed at Francisco and identified him as the armed man. 

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Francisco walked towards the officers with his hands in his pockets and did not follow orders to stop and show his hands, said police.   

Rookie officer and ex-Marine Reagan Selman, 26, then proceeded to shoot Francisco despite the suspect acting in a non-threatening manner, Martin said. In this case, police did not use "lower levels of force," Martin pointed out.

Selman was the only officer to open fire, which he did 20 to 30 seconds after the neighbor singled Francisco out to police.  

He has since been placed on administrative leave, along with with six other officers, as investigators look into the incident, Martin said. 

On Facebook, Rogelio posted a video of the crime scene and claimed his father was shot nine times by police.

"Right across the street is where the police shot my father with nine bullets to his body, and my dad was not armed," Rogelio said in a video on Facebook. 

"My father was MURDERED by BAKERSFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT," he wrote. 

Rogelio said his father had started having delusions and showed early signs of dementia in recent months and that his condition had gotten notably worse in November. 

Francisco was a father of five, grandfather of 16 and great-grandfather of five.

Sources: Daily Mail, Los Angeles Times / Photo credit: Serna Family via NBC News

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