Bakersfield police officer Reagan Selman, who became a full-time cop in February 2016, is now on paid administrative leave for killing Francisco Serna, a man who suffered from dementia and was prone to walking through his neighborhood holding a crucifix.
He would carry it for protection, but it ended up killing him when a neighbor called police after midnight, reporting that a man was walking the neighborhood with a gun.
“That’s him,” the neighbor told police after they pulled up, pointing towards Serna, who was standing in a driveway.
Selman wasted no time in shooting him to death, firing seven times from less than 20 feet away all within 20 seconds.
It was only then that police discovered it was a six-inch wooden crucifix that Serna had been carrying.
But is was a matter of officer safety, Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin told the media because Serna did not comply with Selma’s demands to remove his hand from his pocket within the first 20 seconds.
Laura Serna said her father sometimes waved the crucifix at people.
“There were moments where he thought he was going to die of old age,” Laura Serna told Time. “He was just carrying that around. I don’t know if it was like for his security. They could have mistaken that for a weapon.”
Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin said at a press conference Selman and his partner were the first officers on the scene. Martin said Serna refused to take his hand out of his jacket pocket and stopped moving, and that is when he was shot by Selman. About 10 minutes passed from the time of the 911 call to the shooting, but only 20 to 30 seconds passed from when the officers arrived to when the shooting occurred.
Martin said the caller told the officers “‘That’s him!’” and then 20 seconds passed when shots were fired.
“They’re being told he had a handgun and ‘that’s him.’ It’s kind of tough to address that in 20 seconds,” Martin said.
In October 2016, attorneys from the Geragos and Geragos firm held a press conference on behalf of four families whose relatives have been killed by the Bakersfield Police Department, calling for a federal investigation.