Vigil held for man shot and killed by Bakersfield police officer

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A vigil was held for the man who died Sunday in an officer-involved shooting in Southwest Bakersfield.

It all started with a domestic violence call on Hahn Avenue. When 21-year-old Christopher Okamoto opened the door, a BPD officer shot and killed him.

Okamoto moved to Bakersfield two months ago from Los Angeles. His family says he wanted to live in a safer city with his girlfriend Britney and her baby girl Zoey. Both were present during the shooting.

Britney says Okamoto never hit her; they were only having a loud argument when police arrived.

According to BPD, “at the doorway, an armed suspect met the officers and an officer-involved shooting ensued,” said Sergeant Brian Holcombe.

However, according to his family, Okamoto did not have a gun when he answered the door and the officer didn’t identify himself. Instead, the family claims an officer shot Okamoto eight times through the screen.

“They need to ask questions before they shoot, or get down on the ground or whatever it is. and that’s what needs to change,” said Pedro Gutierrez, Okamoto’s uncle.

During their investigation, police say they found a firearm inside the apartment. His family claims it was a pellet gun.

Several members of the community, whose loved ones were also killed in officer-involved shootings, attended the vigil to support Okamoto’s family.

Bakersfield Police declined to comment on the vigil out of respect to the family. The officer involved is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a critical incident review.

Gutierrez says the family plans to file a lawsuit against the Bakersfield Police Department.

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