Police Abuse

Fresno Police Sued Over Shooting and Killing a Man "Armed" With Garden Hose Nozzle

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Fresno police officers Zebulon Price and Felipe Miguel Lucero drove up to Freddy Centeno last September as he stood on a sidewalk. They got out of their car, from what looks like 5 yards or so away, and shouted "Hey Fresno PD! Get on the ground! Get on the ground!"

Centeno is far enough away that I have no idea if it's likely he actually heard their specific words. They began shooting at him within three seconds of getting out of their car and shouting at him, 10 shots, seven hits.

It looks to me as if his hands remain near his side but not touching his pants, despite police insistence that he reached for and took out a gun like object from his pants. He has no shirt. I honestly can't tell if the garden hose nozzle allegedly mistaken for a gun that all the news reports talk about is in his hand or not, but both sides of the dispute agree it was at time of shooting. [UPDATE: Commenters have pinpointed the exact second they believe they see the taking of object out of pocket happening, 20-22 seconds in roughly. On closer and repeated examination I do agree that that's a reasonable interpretation of what we are seeing in the video

The officers continue shouting "put your hands up" at his bullet riddled prone (but not yet dead) body. Centeno died 23 days later from the wounds.

Video (with anti-police narrative) below:

Centeno's family filed a lawsuit against Fresno over the shooting earlier this week, and released a version of the shooting video.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer gave his own news conference yesterday, as Fresno Bee reports. He swears he sees Centeno reach into his pocket and grab a black object:

Dyer said he had watched the video at least 25 times, and each time he believed Centeno was drawing a weapon. He stressed that the information the officers had, based on a 911 call also played Thursday at the Dyer news conference, was that Centeno was armed with a small black handgun in the pocket of his shorts."

It turned out to be a painted garden hose nozzle.

Centeno, 40, had a history of mental illness and drug abuse, according to his family, and had had past interactions with Fresno police, though these specific officers were said to have been unaware of that.

Details on the 911 call being responded to:

Minutes before the officers confronted Centeno, police 911 dispatchers received a call from a woman saying a shirtless man had identified himself as a federal agent and threatened her with a gun. The woman describes the man who threatened her as a light-skinned Hispanic man with no shirt, black gym shorts, short hair, and tattoos on his arms and body. She tells the dispatcher that the man put the gun back into his front pocket.

Dyer feels that context makes the officers' decision justified. The suing family disagrees:

The attorneys said the purpose of the lawsuit was two-fold: To seek justice and restitution for a family that lost a father, brother and son, as well as to notify government officials of a major abuse of police power.

The lawsuit does not ask for any specific damages. Co-counsel Angel Carrazco of Santa Ana said the attorneys plan to ask jurors to award what they think is fair given the video evidence and the family's loss.

"We're lucky to have obtained this (video)," Guizar said. Police "usually make us jump through hoops."

Guizar said California law requires that officers fire only if there is an immediate threat – not a perceived threat.

The police seemed miffed the family's lawyers even got their hands on the video, which lawyer Cristobal Galindo says he got from the public defender's office, who had it as it was evidence in a case the city was going to pursue against Centeno had he not died from Fresno police shooting him.

The suit as filed, against the specific officers and the city.

A full report from the Office of Independent Review which found Centeno's shooting "within policy."

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  1. They began shooting at him within three seconds of getting out of their car and shouting at him, 10 shots, seven hits.

    Heroic.

    1. 3 seconds shows remarkable restraint.

      1. It’s also as high as they can count.

        1. It’s OK, because he had a history of drug abuse and mental illness. He was not a normal person like me. This could never happen to me. Police officers respect good citizens like me.

      2. Union officials have come to the officers defense by explained that the officers had both been watching the original combined technicolor and black and white version of “the Wizard of Oz” , after orally disposing of some recently seized LSD , and justifiably feared being melted . They pointed to the high number of fatalities which involve Dihydrogen Monoxide .

  2. Was it one of those scary black hose nozzles with the things that pop up?

    1. The spray nozzle was recovered at the scene, where C fell to the ground. It is black in color with a tapered look that is very similar to the look of a black, semiautomatic handgun. It does not possess a large flared end so that water cycles can be modified and instead remains fairly consistent in girth throughout the “barrel portion” of the sprayer. In other words, the nozzle in question does look similar to a handgun with no bright colors or other distinctive shapes that would indicate the object was for yard use

      So in other words, yes, according to the police.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be bashing my head against the wall for a half hour. It might make me feel better or it might lower my IQ to the point where I could apply to the police academy.

      1. The police chief must have gone to the Lenin school of public relations. Tell a big lie often enough, it will become the truth.
        The fuckng guy didn’t reach for anything before he got shot. So it doesn’t make any difference what the nozzle looked like.

        1. Isn’t that class required for all police officers, especially internal affairs?

          He didn’t reach for a damn thing, but it doesn’t matter. The internal affairs report says he did, and the officers say he did, and a DA will say that because of that, he can’t prosecute, whatever our lying eyes say the video says.

        2. Did we watch the same video? It looked like he moved
          his right hand down to his pocket and possibly took
          something out. Although I could not tell for sure if
          he had anything in his hand or not.

          He did not raise his arm so as to point anything
          so they had no real reason to fire at that point.

          1. Even if it had been a gun, they were in no way close enough nor had enough time to determine anything of the sort.

            Panic fire.

            1. And if you knew somebody in the area had a gun* and intended to use it, why would you act like the cops did? Wouldn’t you want to assess the situation and execute any action with some care and restraint? This is the same shit they pulled with Rice. Act like baboons, create dangerous situations, and then “have no choice” but to kill someone.

              * = There is not and should not be anything wrong with having a gun on your person

              1. They are all “split-second decisions”

      2. It does not possess a large flared end so that water cycles can be modified and instead remains fairly consistent in girth throughout the “barrel portion” of the sprayer.

        1. These penis euphemisms are getting out of hand…

        2. All the chin stroking about the nozzle is pointless. The cops didn’t have time to examine it in detail, if they saw it at all.

          And what’s with gunning down people trying to flee, anyway? I have the feeling that a prole who put seven bullets into somebody’s back would have a hard time winning on self-defense.

          1. Unless you’re in Texas 30 minutes after sunset.

  3. The police officers involved were obviously witches who would’ve melted if they got water on them. So not only are you anti-police, you’re racist against wiccans.

    Good shoot, haters.

    1. Totality of the circs!

  4. Guizar said California law requires that officers fire only if there is an immediate threat ? not a perceived threat.

    They perceived an immediate threat. Duh!

    1. So that makes it murder then right?

    2. http://www.thenation.com/artic…..ndict-cop/

      Read the link. The officer’s perception is all that matters.

    3. Are we sure the text doesn’t read “imminent”?

      Because according to the federal government, ‘imminent’ means ‘possibly may occur sometime in the near future, up to three months from now’.

  5. Three seconds. Good thing these heroes are so brave.

    1. I had a twitchy Afghan militia guy stick an AK in my chest in a rather chaotic scen…Neither I nor anyone else shot him or anyone else in the whole city of Charikar.

      I (and a squad of infantry) walked away from rather florid death threats and a gathering crowd of men (many making furtive movements!) in Qarabagh Rabat without shooting anyone, killing any animals or destroying any property.

      I was just one lousy National Guard officer…not like the highly trained, super professionals that had to obviously employ lethal force in no time flat in the face of such obvious danger.

      DAMN IT THESE NUTSHOTS MAKE ME HELPLESSLY ANGRY!

      1. They probably get paid more than you too. Ponder that on the tree of woe.

        1. And a better pension.

      2. Someone obviously did not spend a few months at an accredited police academy…

        1. I know….just Basic Combat Training for 9 weeks….Advanced 6 more weeks….Officer Basic Course 5 months…Officer Advanced Course….Command & General Staff College….ILE….

          WHAT DID I MISS OUT AT THE PTI FOR 4 MONTHS?!?!?!?!?!?!

          1. All of that and you never took “Panic, Shoot, and Obfuscate” training? There is your problem.

              1. +1 pantophobia

      3. There’s a big difference between a real combat guy and a gang of pussies who are playing combat guy.

        1. I was scared shitless both times (mostly after it sunk in) so I am not some barrel chested hero, exception to the rule… why THE FUCK do these cops just ride up and blast people. WTF ARE THEY THINKING?

          1. You’d be stupid not to be afraid in those situations. There is no bravery without fear.

            1. There was a painfully clenched sphincter, to be sure. I don’t think I could have farted a BB after either one.

            2. It seems ataraxia is the only failsafe to avoid spouting state sanctioned holes.

          2. What are they thinking ? Probably that it’s kind of cool to be able to kill people on the flimsiest of pretexts with no personal responsibility at all. Just a guess.

          3. I am not some barrel chested hero

            I don’t know. Facing down gunmen and giving away kidneys. Sounds like hero stuff to me.

            1. He’s just not barrel chested, that’s all.

              1. Swiss is 7’2″ 274 lbs of muscle. He tells us that every chance he gets.

                1. 6’3″ 220lbs.

                  If I were 7’2″, I would be lounging around after my retirement from the NBA 🙁

                  1. My exaggerations get bigger with time. By this time next year you’ll be as big as a cyclops using an oak tree as a club to smite demons.

                    1. Okay – *that* has got to be some kind of euphemism, right?

                    2. One eyed monster, wood, smiting “demons”…I’m not seeing it.

          4. WTF ARE THEY THINKING?

            “Eh, why not? It’ll make a good story at the bar tonight.”

      4. And where are you now? No longer working for the National Guard. Unlike these heroes, who will continue in their employment until they retire on a nicely fattened pension at 45.

        1. Don’t forget the last year of work, incurring an “injury” to pump that pension up higher!

          /Cook County Deputy

        2. If by “retire” you mean “start double dipping”.

      5. The difference in behavior is easy to explain: You and your squad weren’t cowards like these two guys.

      6. You’re lucky to be alive taking crazy chances like that.

        1. The first one, I could tell the kid was just scared and nervous – not some crazed jihad killer. I took a risk, he moved on and nobody died.

          The second time…I wasn’t going to be the OEF version of LT William Calley. I just told everyone to….walk away.

      7. You and I were held to actual standards.

      8. Yeah I don’t get these itchy trigger fingers.

        We had to do night patrols with Afghans sitting on their rooftops guarding their produce stands with rifles and though I was uncomfortable I never felt an urge to just open fire.

        One of my base patrols got a call about a guy who was walking around with a knife in housing. One patrolman talked to him while the other kept his weapon drawn. Patrolman talking to him determines he’s got PTSD, so they eventually got him back into his house and calm everyone down. THAT’S totality of the circumstances, not the snapshot you get after driving up with your gun drawn before evaluating the scene for details.

        1. Indeed – that is how you do it.

        2. In a real war, you have a real chance of having your fire returned. The cop unions say there’s a “war on cops” but the facts don’t support it. Yeah, there are “bad neighborhoods”, but how many people opened fire on the cops after they shot Tamir Rice? Or Akai Gurley? Or this poor fellow? None. Were the cops forced to retreat afterwards because an opposing force was on its way? Nope.

  6. So I first thought, ok the guy is crazy, the cops got a call that the guy (who obviously matched the description) was armed. And if indeed he appeared to be reaching for the garden hose nozzle (painted black according to th story), then the police may very well have been justified.

    Then I watched the video. The guy did NOT grab anything from his shorts. In fact he lowered his hands, then his hands remained absolutely still.
    But I especially love the “Hands up!” after he is shot. They are not elite warriors killing the enemy. They are supposed to be public servants helping people.

    1. Not saying they should have shot him, but he pulled something out with his right hand at 0:24-0:26.

      1. His soul leaving his body?

      2. Looks to me like he dropped his hands to his waist, and then his right hand moved about 3 inches away from his body. Doesn’t look like there was anything in his hand.

        1. Somebody posted on a police shooting threat a few months back that one of the problems is that when cops go through training, everyone hiding from them has a weapon. If you go through enough training like that, it must be in the front of your mind when you’re called to such a situation.

  7. Thankfully, everyone got home safe. The. End.

    1. well not quite everyone… but everyone important!

  8. So I guess the way to off an asshole neighbor is: th next time he is out mowing his yard call the police and tell them he has a gun and put it right near the power switch of the mower. So when they show up and he goes to shut it off, boom!

  9. Actual Priorities in Policing
    1. Officer safety
    2. Revenue from seizures
    3. War on Drugs
    4. War on Sex Trafficking
    5. Catching other criminals

    Public Concept of Priorities in Policing
    1. Protect
    2. Serve

    1. I’m pretty sure there are about 50 priorities ahead of “catching other criminals”, all of which involve revenue creation or shooting dogs.

      1. 5. Shoot animals
        6. Solicit free coffee, donuts, etc
        7. Make sure cop bars have no hassles from any outsiders
        8. Peruse evidence room for goodies
        9. Stings on prostitutes
        10….

        1. 9. Stings on raping prostitutes

          1. You rape ’em, THEN you bust ’em!

            1. *That’s* the ‘sting’ at the end.

              1. No, “sting” is the size of their penis.

          2. Is it rape if they believe you are going to pay them?

            1. I guess sex as a bribe for getting out of jail is a *kind* of payment… so carting them off after the deed is merely theft, not rape.

        2. 10. Post manly stories on Police One

          1. Nah, the ones who post on P1 are wannabes. They’ve never gotten to “be a hero” but they’ll be damned if anyone takes that chance away from them.

            1. “Someday…Some. Day. … I will kill a dog in front of its owner!”

              /PROUDBADGE631

          2. 11. Troll Reason.

              1. What about surf championships and dating Morgan Fairchild?

    2. They are protecting and serving. Themselves. You, they’ll shoot if you get in the way of that.

    3. “Indulge bloodlust and commit wanton mayhem with impunity” should be at the top of the list.

    1. Especially the ‘continuous fire’ kind.

    2. Hey, nobody needs more than 7 gallons per minute!

  10. It looks like he pulls it out of his pants with his right hand at 0:24-0:26. Not saying they should have shot him for it, but that is what the officers are talking about.

    1. Oh damn, you’re right. I didn’t see it at first. With the crazy deference courts give for an officer’s subjective view of events, they’ll likely not be liable.

    2. Actually, it’s tough to tell whether nozzle was already in his hands or whether he pulled it out when the cops, uh, approached him. That was a pretty fast pull out of his pocket if that is what happened.

      The nozzle is apparently pretty small, shadows are getting in the way, and the video quality is poor… which makes you wonder how useful these body cameras actually are…

      1. I would still take a body camera every time. I am in pro-life country and a lot of people talk about how ultrasound photographs made a big difference in public opinion on that issue. Fetuses were no longer so easy to ignore. I hope that we see something similar with body cameras. Even if the videos are not perfect, it will make people more aware of state violence and we will have a conversation about it.

      2. Here’s my problems:

        (1) I honestly can’t tell for sure if he has anything in his hand or not. Maybe when I look at it full-screen.

        (2) The pockets on those cargo shorts are deep. No way did he reach in far enough to pull out that nozzle.

        (3) If it had been a real gun, there’s no way the cops could have confirmed that before firing. Its reckless, at a minimum. We have to get “reasonable” back in “reasonable fear of death, etc.” for cops, because nothing they did here is reasonable.

  11. Oh. My. Fucking. God. I do not see how anybody could watch that and think he was threatening.

    He was — at worst — not immediately following commands because he was frozen from fear/shock. Which, you know, is 100% understandable when two yelling angry people storm out of a car pointing their guns at you when you were strolling around shirtless with a garden hose nozzle.

    1. They should run test drills on unsuspecting people with unloaded guns to see what reactions are and if it’s more difficult to follow officer directions in these situations.

      You know, evaluate whether or not their methods actual work.

  12. I’m perpetually amazed that so many our left leaning brethren who espouse the idea that the police are nothing more than racist bloodthirsty maniacs also believe they should be the only ones with access to firearms.

    1. If they didn’t have to worry about anyone else having guns, I’m sure these situations wouldn’t occur. The violent, unconscionable beatings will continue, however.

    2. When the left replaces our politicians with the right TOP MEN they will also replace our LEOs with the right men.

      1. Yeah, it’s not the violence they have a problem with. It’s the choice of victims.

      2. Many of the Tsarist Okhrana slid rignt into the Cheka after the Bolshevik revolution.

  13. They got out of their car, from what looks like 5 yards or so away, and shouted “Hey Fresno PD! Get on the ground! Get on the ground!”

    Their one regret is not doing a wicked barrel roll first.

    1. Excellent – add in a really twangy 1970’s soundtrack to it…perfect!

      1. The TJ Hooker hood slide?

  14. I can’t tell too much from that video, but one thing is absolutely clear. The cop shot the guy in the back at least once. Fucking cowardly pussies.

    1. You’ve obviously never seen a perp, whacked out on junk, shake off a half dozen rounds and come raging at you backwards, all elbows and heels. They can cover 5 yards in less than a second… backwards. Happens all the time on the mean streets of Fresno.

      1. “no shirt, black gym shorts, short hair, and tattoos on his arms and body”.
        Yup, that’s pretty much everyone in Fresno.

      2. And that’s not even accounting for their 67 inch vertical leaps!

  15. Contempt of Cop is a very serious crime. The punishment is summary execution, to be carried out immediately after the heinous act is committed.

    Yes, I saw the video. The guy was shot as if he were a target in a carnival game.

    1. But but but, the lady on the phone said he had a gun, so it had to be true, right?

      1. The lady on the phone called them; that’s all the rationale they need.

  16. We really need a ban on men who compensate for their insecurities by adopting a veneer of badassery, which contributes to their pathetic, jittery, violent response to any uncomfortable situation.

    Sure, if we enforced that ban we would not have many police officers, but I think we could manage.

    1. we would not have many police officers, but I think we could manage

      NYC did.

  17. He does take the nozzle out of his pocket.

    1. You’re speculating. It certainly looks like he has something in his hand, but the footage doesn’t confirm the fact. But here’s the thing: cops are the people we pay to make these judgments. They’re supposed to be the trained professionals. It’s not enough to leave it to civil arbitrators and the public, and very occasionally the courts, to second guess their actions much later. We’re supposed to be able to trust that their decisions are proper and correct and their conduct is unimpeachable. So whether or not he took the nozzle from his pocket in the first place is irrelevant: they opened fire on a man without hesitation, assuming (they claim) that the item (they claim) he retrieved from his pocket was intended to do them harm. Not when he tried bringing it to bear, but simply because he had an unidentifiable object in his hand. That’s not professional.

      1. We do trust that their decisions are proper and correct and their conduct is unimpeachable. Second guessing is not allowed.

        http://www.thenation.com/artic…..ndict-cop/

        1. Great article, by the way, though it makes me angry that a genuine issue has been racialized.

      2. No I’m not. Between :24 and :26 you can plainly see him reach in is pocket and the nozzle in his hand. Get some glasses dude.

  18. It doesn’t matter if he had something that looks like a gun. Was that ‘gun’ ever pointed at anything or anyone so as to be a threat? The answer is no. Cops have no ROE and no EOF. The problem is that someone having something moderately resembling a gun in itself is justification to shoot. That isn’t a threat. If an Iraqi with an AK isn’t grounds for a soldier to shoot, neither is a citizen with a supposed handgun who hasn’t threatened anyone.

  19. If someone rolls up and starts yelling at you, it’s only natural to try and figure out WTF is going on. This idea that anything less than instant obedience is cause to kill someone is just nuts.

    Sort of on topic, we have a local conservative radio host, and yesterday he was griping that we are losing the war on drugs. Then he caught himself. Sounded like he was criticising the cops. He quickly began praising the outstanding job our heroes in blue are doing. There are too many people like him that will brook no criticism of the cops, even from themselves.

    1. To a very limited extent, I can agree with the argument that the cops are “just doing their jobs”. But who decides what their jobs are? People like that talk-radio host. So, we’ll let the cops off the hook, and instead he and the other “drug warriors” can do 25-to-life for the countless home invasions, dog killings, crib flashbangs, bound and gagged grandmas, shootings of innocent people, and trigger-happy murders.

      1. A fair point.

    2. If our heroes in blue were just receiving more support and resources, the war on drugs would have been over decades ago!!1!!1

      1. That’s why any effort to rein in asset forfeiture is the same as injecting heroin into kids yourself. The cops need that money to keep us safe.

  20. Well since I haven’t seen any comments on the victim’s race yet…

    1. I think Irish is on vacation today.

  21. I expect the cops will win this case. Given that the guy had the nozzle in his hand and didn’t immediately drop it (and the cops had been told he had a gun), I have a hard time imagining that a jury would find the shooting unjustified, even if there was no furtive waistband-reaching.

    Of course the guy shouldn’t have been shot. His hesitation was because he was still processing what the heck the cops were yelling at him. From his perspective this just came out of the blue, he had no reason to expect a confrontation with cops.

    1. “he had no reason to expect a confrontation with cops”

      I think this actually explains how many of these confrontations play out. The people getting shot don’t think of the cops as aggressors. If people who you mentally equate with Andy Griffith showed up and started barking orders and pointing guns at you, what would you do? It has to be a surreal experience. “Why are they yelling at me? What is going on? I don’t know what to do!”

      The cops are shitting all over the people who instinctively trust them and don’t realize that this will have very negative long-term consequences for them.

      1. Most people will continue to trust them. If those two cops had rescued a puppy, that would be on the front page of Yahoo and all over the evening news. Killin’ a guy, not so much.

      2. A majority of untrained people, when confronted with these types of deadly scenarios, will go into total shock and be unable to comply even if their brain is telling their body to do so. Their instincts will typically be to run or freeze while their brain plays catch-up to what is happening around them.

    2. This guy died having no inkling of an idea what he died for. Straight up murder.

    3. Re: Bramblyspam,

      Given that the guy had the nozzle in his hand and didn’t immediately drop it (and the cops had been told he had a gun), I have a hard time imagining that a jury would find the shooting unjustified

      A good lawyer will quickly point out to the jury that a person who is told to drop ‘that gun’ when he knows he’s not carrying a gun is not going to comply immediately, not until he realizes the person barking the orders is talking about that hose nozzle he has in his hand. Try asking someone to ‘drop that chair’ when the person is carrying a bar stool, and you could see someone showing you a face of befuddlement, at least for a couple of seconds.

      But most of the time, jurors do show deference towards police officers because they simply don’t want to believe that the cops hired to protect them are trigger-happy bumpkins.

      1. they simply don’t want to believe that the cops hired to protect them are trigger-happy bumpkins.

        Perfectly said.

        1. And the ones that do believe that the cops are trigger happy bumpkins are removed at Voir Dire.

    4. But they never even said “drop the gun”.

  22. People are missing the good news, the cops had a 70% accuracy rate instead of their typical 8%. Got to find the good where you can.

    1. No bystanders received bullet wounds, no dogs were neutralized.

    2. I would not want to be in that house immediately behind the guy. The one about half a block away.

  23. Great, now I have to share a name with an asshole murderer cop.

  24. Zebulon Price? The cops hit 7 of 10? There’s no way this story is real

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