Officers shoot man in southeast Fresno confrontation
A man shot by two police officers in southeast Fresno on Thursday morning is in critical condition, and police and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the incident.
Deputy Fresno Chief of Police Pat Farmer said the shooting took place after officers sped to a report of an armed disturbance and confronted the man, who ignored commands to show his hands and pulled what appeared to be a handgun from his shorts. The black object that he was holding turned out to be a “water pistol sprayer-type of device with a trigger,” that looked very much like a handgun, Farmer said.
Police identified the victim as Freddy Centeno, 40, of Fresno. As of 3:30 p.m., Centeno was alive and in surgery, police said.
The shooting occurred at El Monte Way and Orange Avenue just before 11 a.m., Farmer said at a news conference at the shooting scene.
Roger Centeno said that his brother was bipolar, schizophrenic and abused drugs, but he questioned whether officers needed to use lethal force.
Farmer said the shooting took place after police dispatchers received a 911 call from a home on Orange at 10:51 a.m. A resident said a man knocked on her door, identified himself as a federal agent, pointed a gun at her and asked to see someone named George. The man was told there was no George in the home; he then asked whether there were drugs in the home, and was told there were not.
Farmer said the man then walked north on Orange and about three minutes later, two MAGEC officers from the Fresno Police Department and an officer in a marked patrol car located him at Orange and El Monte. The man, who was dressed in shorts without a shirt, was told by officers to show his hands and get on the ground. Farmer said that instead, the man pulled out the “pistol-looking object” and two officers fired multiple rounds, striking him an unknown number of times. Farmer said both officers were clearly identifiable as police by the tactical vests they were wearing. The shooting took place at about 15 feet. Officers performed CPR before emergency workers arrived.
4 Fresno police officer-involved shootings in 2015
8 Fresno police officer-involved shootings in 2014
Fresno police Lt. Mark Salazar said one of the officers involved is an 11-year veteran of the force, while the other has served for 18 years.
Centeno had a history of run-ins with Fresno police, Salazar said. On Feb. 26, he was issued a misdemeanor citation for interfering with police. On March 14, police were called to his residence for a disturbance. They learned Centeno was off his medication and had him evaluated by medical health personnel. He was arrested two days later for possessing methamphetamine.
Salazar said the officers who shot Centeno were unaware of his history.
The deputy chief said both the woman who was confronted at her home and another witness who reported seeing the man walking down Orange waving a gun were convinced the man was holding a firearm.
Both officers were wearing body cameras, which Farmer said was “very fortunate.”
Roger Centeno arrived at the shooting scene shortly before Farmer spoke. He said that his brother lives with him and his family and there are no firearms in their home. He said the family has been asking the city and county for help for Freddy Centeno. He said they were told “something needs to happen” before Freddy Centeno could get that help.
“Is this what needs to happen?” he asked.