Police Abuse

Bakersfield Cops Shoot 73-Year-Old Man After Responding to Report of Someone Brandishing a Gun

No gun was found anywhere on the block or in the family's home or cars


family photo

A police officer in Bakersfield, California, shot and killed a 73-year-old man in a driveway, having come to the area to respond to a call about a man brandishing a gun, the Los Angeles Times reports. Police shot Francisco Serna after a witness pointed at him, according to the Times.

Investigators searched the area as well as Serna's family's home and cars for a firearm, but did not find one. Police did not mention whether they found any other weapon or object on or near Serna, whose family says was suffering from the onset of dementia. Serna's son says police had come to his father's house twice before after he activated his medical alarm out of confusion, but police told the Times they could not confirm they had ever been to Serna's house before.

The officer was placed on paid leave and not identified. Bakersfield was considering body cameras for its police officers as recently as last year, but so far they have only come up in discussions during the budget cycles, but nothing more. Authorities point to the cost of the equipment and storage as factors preventing a purchase. Police have released little information, and aren't required by state law to release much.

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but has seen a spike in gun sales in 2016. It's difficult not to wonder how whipping up hoplophobia, whether to advance anti-gun policies or out of sincere ignorance, has helped create a population that sees dangerous individuals with guns everywhere, and calls the police accordingly, despite a long-term decline in crime.