NewsCovering Kern County


Autopsy reveals new details about death of man with dementia who was killed by Bakersfield police

Posted at 4:51 PM, Feb 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-14 19:52:26-05

New details have been released about the death of Francisco Serna, 73, who was shot and killed by Bakersfield Police Officer Regan Selman on December 12, 2016. 

23ABC has obtained the autopsy report for Serna, which includes new details about what he was doing in the hours leading up to the shooting and where on his body he was shot. 

According to a Kern County's Coroner's report, in the hours leading up to the shooting, Serna was in the kitchen of his home breaking items in the sink with a hammer. Serna's son spoke to him on the phone and asked him to stop. 

Documents show Serna's behavior was progressing over the previous year and he was getting verbally aggressive. "He had complaints of hearing voices and ringing in his ears."


It went on to state that Serna had no problems with his neighbors and he owned no guns. 

When the Deputy Coroner showed up to the scene on the night of the shooting, Serna was observed face-up in the driveway behind a car. The coroner took Serna's wallet and it was later booked into the Coroner's Office Property Room. 

Documents show what Serna was wearing the night of the shooting, "a white t-shirt, brown jacket, blue jeans, brown belt, and brown boots along with his personal items of two cell phones, eye glasses, and a brown cross were seized by the Bakersfield Police Department."

Serna was shot a total of five times, three of the gunshots were through-and-through while two others were recovered during the autopsy.

Documents show Serna was shot in the chest, in the stomach, in his left hand which also penetrated through to his lower left torso area, in his left thigh, and in his upper right back.

The autopsy report states the shot through his upper right back is a lethal wound.

"Projectile #5 hits at the lateral upper right back and travels toward the front and upward through the posterior third rib and intercostal space, the apex of the upper lobe of the right lung, probably the major vessels underneath the right clavicle, and then exits at the base of the right throat. This is a lethal wound."

However, in another section of the report, it seems to note the shot may have been front-to-back, rather than back-to-front.

"Gunshot wound #5 is a through-and-through wound from back to front through the upper right chest. The wound at the back is a classic entrance wound in appearance. The bone spicules from the third rib favor a back to front direction. The wound at the loose skin of base of the right throat appears atypical with an irregular hole surrounded by an irregular abrasion (thought to be a shored abrasion of an exit wound.)

There is new preliminary information that the gunshot clothing defects may favor a front-to-back direction. Careful consideration of the final clothing examination report by the criminalist will be done in determining the direction of this gunshot wound."

The report shows Serna was on medication and had a medical history consisting of diabetes and dementia. The medications were not kept in the house. "They were kept at their son's house and he would bring them over daily and give them to the decedent."