From: 17 News
By Jason Galvin 12/27/16
It’s been 15 days since a 73-year-old unarmed man with dementia was shot and killed by a Bakersfield police officer.
For the first time, we’re hearing Officer Reagan Selman’s side. Officer Selman can’t speak with us while the investigation continues, but his attorney can.
He says the accounts of the shooting have been exaggerated and is asking the public to wait for a final report before making a judgment.
Attorney Russell Perry says many factors led to Officer Reagan Selman’s decision to shoot Francisco Serna. “The important thing to remember is he was responding to a call for service, and that call was for a man with a gun. And those calls are very dangerous calls.”
Perry says when officers arrived on scene the 911 caller confirmed they had seen Serna with a gun. Perry says when Serna reappeared from his house he ignored numerous commands to remove his hands from his jacket.
Police scanner traffic confirms officers shouted commands at Serna for at least 90 seconds. “Instead of complying with the officers, walked across the street ignoring all commands. And with the hand in the same location where the firearm was allegedly seen by the citizen, this is a very dangerous situation for police officers. And I think the public doesn’t understand why it’s so dangerous. It’s a lethal situation. Officers are trained to use lethal force in this situation. You can’t use less than lethal force when someone is armed,” said Perry.
When asked whether Officer Selman or other officers were aware that Serna had dementia, Perry declined to comment, referring to the ongoing investigation as to why he cannot release that information.
One day after the shooting, police said Serna was found with a wooden crucifix, but no weapon. Perry says Officer Selman never saw the crucifix. “The crucifix had nothing to do with the shooting. It was just something that was in possession of Mr. Serna that was discovered afterward. But this was not a situation where the crucifix was mistaken as a weapon of sorts. It had nothing to do with this incident.”
Perry urged the public to put themselves in the shoes of officers responding to reports of an armed person. “I think there’s a disconnect between what law enforcement officers have to do on a day to day basis and there’s a certain section of the public that has an idea of how things should play out and their perception is not based on reality.”
Perry says the Bakersfield Police Officer’s Association will fully cooperate with the California Department of Justice, which last week announced it has opened a civil rights investigation into both BPD and Kern County Sheriff’s office. “We don’t anticipate any adverse findings from the review, we welcome the review and we want to be as transparent as possible as well,” said Perry.
Perry says all officer-involved shootings are avoidable. He urges anyone who feels they are wrongly confronted by law enforcement to comply with orders and seek justice with the courts.