Crime

Police fatally shoot man in central Fresno

Woman says she saw officer shoot man in central Fresno

Mya Thomas says she witnessed the officer involved shooting Wednesday afternoon along Blackstone Avenue between Vassar and Yale avenues in central Fresno.
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Mya Thomas says she witnessed the officer involved shooting Wednesday afternoon along Blackstone Avenue between Vassar and Yale avenues in central Fresno.

Fresno police shot and killed a man who reached for a gun from his waistband in a commercial area along Blackstone Avenue in central Fresno on Wednesday afternoon, Chief Jerry Dyer said.

The shooting happened along Blackstone near Yale Avenue about 3:45 p.m.

Dyer said an officer wearing plain clothes and a tactical vest was driving an unmarked car north on Blackstone when he spotted a man with a backpack standing with another man in front of a liquor store on Blackstone.

This officer, part of the department’s proactive anti-gang task force, said the men were “acting suspiciously,” Dyer said.

Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer holds news conference following an officer-involved shooting along Blackstone Avenue between Vassar and Yale avenues Wednesday afternoon, March 23, 2016 in Fresno, Calif.

When the officer tried to contact the man, he dropped his backpack and fled south on Blackstone. A uniformed sergeant in a marked patrol car cut him off, and the man turned into a nearby alley.

It wasn’t a fair situation.

Witness Mya Thomas, who said the man appeared to be discarding the gun when an officer fired

When the officer confronted the man, he reached for a revolver from his waistband, Dyer said. The officer ordered the man to show his hands and at some point fired two rounds at the man.

He was hit in the chest and later died at Community Regional Medical Center. Dyer described him as a Hispanic man in his 20s.

The revolver was recovered, but Dyer did not know if it was loaded or had been fired. The backpack was also recovered, but it had not been searched yet, Dyer added.

When asked exactly what the men were doing that seemed suspicious to the officer, Dyer said it wasn’t clear. The officer who fired the shots had not been fully interviewed yet, but he will be placed on administrative leave as is routine in police shootings, Dyer said.

The second man was not apprehended.

Dyer said one witness has corroborated the officer’s account that the man had a weapon and that the officer ordered the man to drop it.

Another witness, Mya Thomas, said the man did not stop when officers asked him to. When officers cornered the man, she said, she believed the man was trying to get rid of the weapon when the officer fired. “It wasn’t a fair situation,” she said.

Other people in the area who claimed to see the shooting also said the man was attempting to throw his handgun away when confronted by officers.

There’s evidence showing that the revolver either fell or was thrown.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer

When asked about this, Dyer said it was difficult to tell.

“There’s evidence showing that the revolver either fell or was thrown,” Dyer said. He added that the gun – as well as a crack pipe – were found near where the man fell after being shot.

Dyer said investigators still have to study the officer’s body camera to determine the full sequence of events.

This is at least the third officer-involved shooting this year.

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