An unarmed 73-year-old Latino suffering from dementia has been fatally shot nine times by police in the US state of California.
According to witnesses, Francisco Serna, who was in the early stages of dementia, was unarmed and standing in a neighbor's driveway when a police officer in Bakersfield, California, fired several rounds and killed him. He was declared dead at the scene.
The shooting took place after police allegedly received reports of an armed man on a late-night walk in the neighborhood.
Bakersfield police spokesman Sergeant Gary Carruesco confirmed that no gun had been found in a search of the scene.
“Right across the street is where police shot my father with nine bullets to his body and my dad was not armed,” the victim’s son said. “There is false reports about my father having weapons. He was never armed.”
Serna’s family said the victim had been suffering from delusions and often went on walks when he had trouble sleeping to make himself tired before bed.
“My dad did not own a gun. He was a 73-year-old retired grandpa, just living life,” Serna’s son continued. “He should have been surrounded by family at old age, not surrounded by bullets.”
Serna's family will hold a candlelight vigil in the neighborhood where he was killed.
Police Department in Bakersfield said the officer who shot Serna had been placed on administrative leave while the incident was under investigation.
The use of excessive force by police has become the focus of national debate in America, particularly over several high-profile killings of African-Americans and minorities by mainly white officers.
Over 55,000 people in the United States were either killed or wounded by police in 2012 alone, according to a new study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland.
The study found that blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are more likely to get arrested by police compared to white and Asian people.
Nearly 900 people have been killed by police since the beginning of 2016, an activist group known as Killed by Police announced in mid-October.