The grieving family of a mentally disabled man named Freddy Centeno recently released footage that allegedly shows two Fresno police officers shooting the man to death. The lawyers of the family claim the video was obtained from body cameras on the officers at the time of the killing. You can watch the footage at the top of the page, but be warned; the video contains graphic images of Freddy Centeno’s death.
According to the Huffington Post, while 40-year-old Freddy Centeno appeared to be shirtless and unarmed when Fresno police shot him, the officers claim he both refused to get on the ground when instructed and appeared to pull a gun from his shorts. The video above shows Freddy Centeno standing still as officers shout for him to get on the ground, then reaching into his shorts. It is unclear what he retrieves from his pocket, but the officers then proceed to shoot at Freddy Centeno nine to 10 times, even as he is running away. He was hit by seven of the bullets.
— Connie Tran (@MissConnieTran) September 3, 2015
The shooting put Freddy Centeno into a coma for 23 days until he eventually died in the hospital. It was later revealed that the item Freddy Centeno pulled from his pocket was the black nozzle of a garden hose.
According to ABC 30, the Fresno Police Chief has responded to the released footage, claiming that the shooting of Freddy Centeno was justified because the spray nozzle “clearly” resembles a gun.
“To the shorts, reaching in his pocket short pocket, still in the pocket, there it comes, right there,” Dyer said as the video played. “Which clearly appears to be a handgun, and then the next one, and he begins to raise it, and that’s when the officers feared for their life and fired their weapons.”
Fresno Deputy Chief Pat Farmer agreed with Dyer, insisting that the nozzle looked like a firearm.
“It’s black in color. It has a trigger on it. It’s not a water gun, but it’s some type of spray device that looks like a pistol.”
But the family of Freddy Centeno is not buying it. They claim that the video shows the officers did not give the mentally ill man a chance to respond, shooting him an excessive number of times within just a few seconds of instructing him to get down.
Centeno’s family will be represented by Humberto Guizar in a lawsuit they are filing against the officers in the video and the city of Fresno, California. Guizar claims he’s “never seen a police shooting this bad.”
“This is a bad shooting. This is an atrocity,” said Guizar. “They tell him get on the ground. He didn’t have the chance to get on the ground you could count the time, until they stopped the car, one second, before they began to fire.”
Guizar also noted that Freddy Centeno never actually raised the black nozzle or pointed it at the officers.
But Police Chief Dyer had another bit of evidence in defense of the Fresno police department. The 911 call that brought the officers to the scene came from a local woman who reported that Freddy Centeno had come to her door, pulled a gun on her and told her he was a federal agent. It’s unclear if the woman also mistook the garden hose for a weapon, but the 911 call could explain why the Fresno officers approached Freddy Centeno believing they could be in mortal danger.
The Fresno Bee reported that Freddy Centeno was living with his daughter and his parents at the time of his death because he had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
(Photo via the Fresno Police Department)