Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer on Monday called the shooting death of unarmed 19-year-old Dylan Noble a “tragedy,” but said body-camera videos of the incident show why officers “felt, at least in their minds,” the need to use their firearms in the Saturday afternoon confrontation.
The chief made his comments just 48 hours after the incident in east-central Fresno and in the aftermath of a vigil Sunday night at the shooting scene that turned into a protest.
In an interview at Fresno Police Department headquarters, the chief also said:
▪ He is certain Noble’s family has a lot of questions about the shooting which took place at Shields and Armstrong avenues, “questions that we don’t have answers for at this time.”
▪ He doesn’t understand why Noble, a young man with no criminal history, did not cooperate with officers and show his hands when he was ordered to do so.
▪ He is “confident” that video of the shooting from body cameras worn by the two officers will be released “at some point,” but not before an investigation of the shooting is complete.
Events unfolded rapidly Saturday after police received a call at 3:40 p.m. from a woman who told dispatchers that a man dressed in camouflage with a rifle was at Clinton and Clovis avenues.
Officers were in the area searching for the man when a pickup squealed its tires and sped from Sunnyside Avenue onto Shields Avenue. Officers caught up with the pickup at Fowler Avenue and Shields and activated emergency lights.
The pickup stopped near a gas station at Armstrong Avenue and Shields. Dyer said Noble, who was driving the truck, refused to comply with repeated commands to show both his hands, leading the officers to believe that he was armed. Noble then placed his right hand behind his back as he “walked toward officers very rapidly.”
Dyer said Noble made the comment “I hate my (expletive) life” as he approached police and pulled his hand out “very quickly.” The shooting followed. One of the officers fired three rounds from his service handgun and the second officer fired one round from a shotgun.
“There was no firearm on this individual,” Dyer said. “There was no firearm found in the pickup.
“We’re talking about a 19-year-old young man who doesn’t have any criminal history, and we’re trying to figure out why this occurred.”
Another unanswered question is what became of the suspect, reportedly armed with a rifle, who was the subject of the police search that led to Noble’s death. Dyer said police body cameras also contain footage of the officers’ encounter with the woman who reported seeing the suspect.