Family of Man Killed by Fresno Police Protest at Headquarters

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freddy centenoThe family of Freddy Centeno and the Fresno Brown Berets held a protest outside the Fresno Police Headquarters on Wednesday.

Centeno was shot by police Sept. 3 in southeast Fresno after he allegedly pulled a “gun-like object” on officers.  The object turned out to be a water nozzle.  Freddy Centeno, 40, died from his officer involved injuries on Sept. 25, 2015.

About 30 people were present outside police headquarters to show support for Freddy’s family, who were dressed in black and visibly mourning.

“Brother Freddy didn’t have a weapon,” said Rev. Floyd Harris Jr. “He had an illness.”

Roger Centeno, Freddy’s brother, said Freddy was bipolar and schizophrenic.

“He told us he was going for a walk,” Roger Centeno said. “Ten minutes later, we heard the gunshots.”

Freddy was shot nine times, according to Roger Centeno.  Fresno police officials say they are unable to confirm the number.

The Fresno police department previously had Freddy Centeno evaluated by mental health personnel, after learning that he was off of his medication during a disturbance call in March.  But Fresno police say the officers who shot Centeno had no knowledge of his mental health issues.

Chief Dyer said last month that de-escalation, implicit bias and mental health training was underway.
Wednesday, Fresno police Deputy Chief Robert Nevarez said the responding officers did not have time to implement the training.

Roger Centeno says training police officers how to better respond to a mentally ill suspect isn’t enough.

“The training has to be implemented,” he said at the protest.

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“The 911 caller, a woman with three children in her home, told dispatch that a man pointed a gun at her,” Nevarez said. “That’s what officers knew as they arrived at the scene three minutes after the initial call.”

Nevarez said a call for an active threat is the highest priority and they “won’t ever apologize for responding quickly.”

Freddy Centeno was the first of three people to be shot by police in the same week.

Chief Dyer told the Fresno Bee that the frequency in police shootings was a result of the “war on cops”, claiming that there is an increase in aggression towards officers.

“There’s no question what’s happening across America,” Dyer said. “There’s an increase in aggressiveness toward officers. We’re seeing police officers that are being shot, officers that are being assassinated.

“Certainly police officers are being very vigilant, but at the same time, I know that there’s a high level of scrutiny and criticism on the actions of officers. What we have seen this week is an increased level of aggressiveness toward officers, and when officers fear for their life, or for the life of someone else, they use deadly force, and unfortunately we’ve had three of those incidences occur in the last week. This is our sixth officer-involved shooting in the last year.”

Despite 2015 being the safest year for cops in decades, Chief Dyer insists his officers aren’t liable for killing unarmed people.

The Family of Freddy Centeno has hired legal counsel but haven’t announced if they’ll be filing a lawsuit.

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