BAKERSFIELD, Calif., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- An elderly man with dementia shot and killed by Bakersfield, Calif., police earlier this week was carrying a crucifix and not a handgun, authorities said.
An officer shot and killed Francisco Serna, 73, Monday in a driveway near his home after a neighbor called police and reported a man carrying a revolver. Lyle Martin, Bakersfield's acting police chief, said the neighbor was approached by the man as she drove her vehicle into the driveway. Martin added Serna was acting bizarrely, with one hand in his pocket. Police said the neighbor said he saw a black or brown object which she believed was a handgun.
Serna's son, Rogelio Serna, said his father often took walks in the neighborhood when he could not sleep. The incident occurred on the street where Francisco Serna lived with his wife and a daughter. The family said their father did not own guns and was not carrying one when he was shot.
"My dad did not own a gun. He was a 73-year-old retired grandpa, just living life," Rogelio Serna said. "He should have been surrounded by family at old age, not surrounded by bullets."
Police said that Serna walked toward arriving police officers with his hands in his jacket pockets, and ignored their commands to stop and show his hands. Selman fired when Serna was about 20 feet away.
The incident occurred two days before Martin was scheduled to be sworn in as police chief. The Bakersfield Police Department was hit with a scandal when two detectives pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal drug and corruption charges. Martin said he hoped the immediate response to a disputed police shooting was an indication of a show of transparency in the police force.