Six Deadly Shootings By Fresno Police in 2009

October 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Already 2009 has seen more officer-involved shootings by Fresno Police than last year. There have been 10 this year compared to eight in all of 2008. Three times as many of this year's shootings by Fresno Police Officers have been deadly. Mayor Ashley Swearengin plans to soon name the city's new police auditor. In the last month, Fresno Police Officers have shot and killed three men all of whom were not carrying a deadly weapon.

Family and friends of Steven Vargas carried flowers to the spot where a Fresno Police Officer killed him. The father of two just got off parole earlier this month. He married his wife last year, but Vargas' life ended on Tuesday near Mckinley and Cedar.

Ricardo Garcia is the family's pastor. He said, "If you knew him from when he was younger and his history, you would see there has been some drastic changes in his life. He does have children."

The family's pastor told me Vargas left home without a weapon. At first, Fresno Police reported Vargas was armed when an officer approached his crashed SUV. But on Wednesday, the Sheriff's Department confirmed the man had no gun or knife. Fresno Sheriff's Department Spokesperson Chris Curtice said, "All though we did not find a weapon ... witnesses told the officer before he made contact with Mr. Vargas that Mr. Vargas was armed with a gun, so that was the information the officer had in his mind."

Related Stories:
Man Shot by Police Tuesday Identified
Fresno Police Kill Erratic Driver

Last month, Lonnie Graham died after an officer shot him in Central Fresno. They thought Graham had a gun. It turned out to be a cell phone. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said, "It's a mistake to jump to conclusions, you have to be fair and thorough." Mayor Swearengin says an unbiased review of the recent shootings will happen once a police auditor takes office, "If for some reason, we are unsuccessful in securing a person in the position right now, we will contract out and have someone on site to review these cases."

The mayor could announce the new police auditor as early as Thursday.



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