The city of Bakersfield must pay $400,000 to the family of an elderly man with dementia who was shot and killed by Bakersfield police in December 2016, according to a recently settled lawsuit.

The family of 73-year-old Francisco Serna will receive the sum for damages from the city of Bakersfield. The settlement, finalized in July, does not constitute an admission of liability or negligence, the settlement document states. 

Neither party is allowed to speak to the media about the case or make "disparaging remarks" about the other party, according to the settlement document. 

The Serna family filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of California in September 2017. The wrongful death complaint alleged that BPD Officer Reagan Selman, who shot Serna six to seven times, used excessive force when he shot the unarmed man.

Neighbors told police Serna was armed with a gun and he subsequently ignored orders to take his hands out of his pockets, according to BPD. No gun was ever found on Serna, though a dark-colored crucifix was found. 

The complaint alleged "the shooting was excessive and unreasonable," and the defendants, including Selman and 15 unnamed people, acted in a manner that was "willful, wanton (and) malicious."

Each party was required to pay its own attorneys' fees and costs, according to the stipulation for dismissal document. 

Serna's death sparked outrage and was among a number of local officer-involved shootings leading to protests and calls for better police training in 2017.

In February 2018, former District Attorney Lisa Green said BPD's actions were justified, arguing that each of the six officers at the scene perceived a threat from Serna due to the information they were provided and Serna's actions.  Green also noted California law allows the use of deadly force if an officer believes there is an imminent danger of death or great bodily injury. 

In July 2017, a BPD review board found the shooting was within BPD policy and state and federal guidelines. It also found the officer who fired the weapon could return to duty.

(2) comments


Well those are some messed up , in need of a make over state guidelines!!!

Tony Tee

Besides better police training, there should also be training for families to better care of persons with dementia. Leaving a person with dementia to wonder off into the night is not a good practice. It seems like good common sense, but it still occurs often. Training, Training, Training at ALL LEVELS.

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