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Kern DA: Serna Shooting Was Justified

Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green has determined that Bakersfield Police officer Reagan Selman acted reasonably when he shot and killed 73 year-old Francisco Serna in December 2016. Serna was unarmed, and suffering from dementia. Police later discovered the item he was holding in his pocket was a crucifix.


Officers had been called to the home on Silver Birch Avenue after Serna approached and questioned the passenger in a nearby car. The witness told dispatchers that the Serna had pulled out a gun during the confrontation. When police responded they discovered Serna outside and confronted him near a SUV. Officers ordered Serna to stop and show his hands but he refused.


Green says officer Selman acted in self-defense when he fired seven shots at Serna, because he had a reasonable fear for his life, and Serna failed to comply with the officer’s orders.


The Serna case gained national media attention, as one of several high-profile officer involved shootings by the department. Shortly after the shooting the California Department of Justice announced it was opening a civil rights investigation into both the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office over their practices and the use of force.