City agrees to pay Serna family $400,000 in officer-involved shooting lawsuit settlement

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Nearly three years after 73-year-old Francisco Serna was shot and killed by a Bakersfield Police officer, a settlement has been reached between the City of Bakersfield and the Serna family after the family sued the city.

The city agreed to pay the family $400,000 as part of the settlement, according to the documents, however all parties in the case are responsible to “bear their own attorney’s fees and costs.”

As part of the agreement, the Serna family and the city agreed that the settlement “does not constitute an admission of liability or negligence,” on the city’s part.

Additionally, each side also agreed not to speak to the media, according to the settlement.

” PRESS/MEDIA STATEMENTS. Releasors and their family members and the low firms of Lazaro Salazar Law, Inc., and Law Office of Ara Jabagchourian and its agents or representatives, will not pursue or discuss with the press and/or media outlets (i.e, television programs, news outlets, newspapers, magazines, social media sites, etc.) this settlement agreement, its terms the negotiations, or any matters relating to the resolution of this case other than a mutually agreed upon statement(should the parties agree upon a mutual statement). Releasors and their family members and the law firms of Lazaro Salaza Law, Inc., and Law Office of Ara Jabagchourian and their agents or representatives shall not advertise, disclose, or publicize, by way of newspapers, magazines, jury verdict publications, law firm marketing brochures, television, radio, newsletters, websites or the internet, any of the terms of this settlement agreement.
Defendants and the City of Bakersfield shall not make disparaging remarks to the press and/or media outlets (i.e, television programs, news outlets, newspapers, magazines, social media sites, etc.) in connection with this settlement agreement.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, no party shall make or give any statement whatsoever or any kind until the City Council approves the settlement.”

Settlement Agreement

Documents dated July 18, 2019, stated both parties in the case — Rubia Rosaura Serna, Laura Quintana, Fracisco Serna, Jesus Serna, Rogelio Serna, and the City of Bakersfield — “resolved” the case. “The parties will file a Stipulated Dismissal [SIC] of the entire action,” the document continued.

Serna, who was suffering from dementia, was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting with the Bakersfield Police Department during the early morning hours of Dec. 12, 2016.

Police were dispatched to the scene after a neighbor reported seeing a man with a gun on the 7900 block of Silver Birch Avenue in southwest Bakersfield.

Officer Reagan Selman arrived a short time later, Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin said during a July 2017 news conference. Serna immediately approached Selman and fellow officers, per the chief. Serna did not drop the object in his hand after police called on him to do so, Martin continued.

Selman shot Serna five times. A search later revealed Serna was not armed; the object the neighbor most likely thought was a firearm turned out to be a crucifix.

In 2018, more than a year after the shooting, Green ruled the shooting was justified.

“California law permits the use of deadly force if the officer actually and reasonably believed he was in immediate danger of death or great bodily injury,” Green said during the Feb. 2, 2018 press conference. “The appearance of danger is all that is necessary. Actual danger is not,” she added.

Despite Green’s statement, the Serna family sued the City of Bakersfield for damages.

The case has been officially dismissed, per the settlement agreement.

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