Bakersfield, Calif. (NBC News) — The daughter of a 73-year-old dementia patient shot and killed by California police responding to a mistaken report of an armed man said Tuesday that his death was “unjustifiable.”
“My dad was murdered, I believe, for no reason,” Laura Serna, 47, told NBC News.
Bakersfield Police confirmed Tuesday that Francisco Serna was not armed and no gun was found. They have not yet provided details of any confrontation between Serna and officers who were responding to a report of a man with a handgun in a driveway.
“During the contact, one officer fired several rounds, striking the subject,” police said in a statement, adding that the officer who fired was placed on administrative leave while the shooting is under investigation.
Francisco Serna was a father of five, grandfather of 16 and great-grandfather of five. He was diagnosed with dementia in July and his health had taken a recent turn for the worse, his daughter said.
“We had been taking him to the doctor almost two, three days a week this last month,” Laura Serna said.
In the very early hours of Monday morning, Francisco was up late watching television with his wife of 51 years, his family said. She went to gather some laundry and when she came back, he was gone from the room.
Before she could figure out where he went, she heard gunshots and ran outside to see police swarming and her husband on the ground, her daughter said.
“My father is laying in the driveway across the street with blood coming out of his leg area and abdomen area,” said Laura Serna, who lives in her parents’ home.
She said her father did not own a gun. Dementia made him agitated and aggressive at times, but he had never tried to hit anyone, she said.
The family suspects Francisco was having an episode of some sort related to the dementia and police overreacted.
“I’m sure my dad was just scared to death because he had a little paranoia with the dementia,” the daughter said.
Normally, she said, her father was a “very peaceful, fun-loving, joking kind of person.”
“He was kind of the life of the party here,” she said. “He was just a good, genuine person.”