Fresno, CA — On September 3, 2015 at approximately 11:00 a.m., Fresno Police Officers, Zebulon Price and Felipe Miguel Lucero shot 40-year-old Freddy Centeno seven times causing severe injuries. Mr. Centeno was unarmed, was wearing shorts, no shirt on, and walking along the street when he was approached by Fresno Police who immediately started shooting2
Freddy Centeno would not recover from the multiple wounds suffered at the hands of these two Fresno cops.
According to Roger Centeno, the victim’s brother, Freddy is bipolar and schizophrenic and abused drugs. The family had been asking the city and county for help and were told “something needs to happen” before Freddy could get help.
“Is this what needs to happen?” asked Roger, after the shooting.
Centeno was in the midst of a schizophrenic episode and a neighbor called the police after he knocked on her door holding a garden hose nozzle and asked if there were any drugs in the home.
When police responded, Centeno was walking down the street, shirtless, unarmed, and wearing only shorts when officers arrived on scene. The hard to watch footage from the officers’ body cameras shows them immediately start firing upon exiting the vehicle.
Centeno was never given a chance to comply with their orders.
On Thursday, after a press conference was held, the Cristobal Galindo Law Firm released the body camera footage to the public.
This execution by Fresno police is one of the worst police shootings ever caught on film.
Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer told The Fresno Bee that the video he reviewed showed the officers giving Centeno multiple commands and that he reached for his waistband. However, none of that is evident in the video below and, the officers gave him almost no time to comply.
After the shooting, Fresno police Deputy Chief Robert Nevarez issued a clearly false statement to the press. “Officers commanded him to raise his hands, and he grabbed for the object in his right front pocket and raised it towards them,” he said. Centeno was holding a garden hose nozzle, but he most assuredly never raised it or threatened officers with it at all.
Chief Dyer also released a statement to the media, blaming Centeno’s death on the non-existent “war on cops.”
“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.”
The officers fired 9 rounds at Centeno, 7 of which hit him. The last shot fired hit him as he was falling to the ground.
The officers involved in the shooting have not been disciplined. The Free Thought Project called the Fresno Police department on Thursday and asked if Zebulon Price and Felipe Miguel Lucero would be held accountable for killing Centeno. They declined to answer
As we have previously reported, the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, an organization dedicated to eliminating the barriers faced by those with severe mental illnesses, released a jaw-dropping report, last year. In their report titled, Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters, researchers discovered that people with an untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during an interaction with police than anyone else.
According to the study, by all accounts – official and unofficial – a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness.
Where official government data regarding police shootings and mental illness have been analyzed – in one U.S. city and several other Western countries – the findings indicate that mental health disorders are a factor in as many as 1 in 2 fatal law enforcement encounters.
Freddy Centeno was one of these men.
Attorney for the family, Humberto Guizar, told the Free Thought Project in an email, “The death of an unarmed mentally ill man without provocation is a tragic event as Mr. Centeno leaves behind a young child and loving parents.”