Fresno police dispute second investigation into Dylan Noble's death

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno police have responded to an Action News story from Monday about investigations into Dylan Noble's shooting death.

As we reported, federal court documents reveal there are still two active investigations into the death of Dylan Noble, both of which could result in criminal charges against the officers who shot him.

Noble was shot and killed by Fresno Police officers in June 2016 after ignoring commands by police after he was pulled over.

"There is no reason to sensationalize this tragic event," the Fresno police press release says. "It is important that this case not be tried in the media in order to guarantee a fair process for all involved. There appears to be a desire on the part of some to do just that."

Their statement is in support of a gag order against the release of personnel files and personal observations by police officers investigating the case. It does not address the judge's ruling that FPD needs to release, without a gag order, the "objective factual documents" including body camera video, autopsy reports, etc.

The statement also indicates the Fresno Police Department investigation is complete:

"As previously reported, the criminal investigation has been completed and findings rendered by the district attorney's office. The administrative investigation by Internal Affairs has been completed. However, a final disposition is pending due to the administrative process that is afforded to the employee as guaranteed by the peace officers Bill of Rights."

This contradicts what the court says it was told by the internal affairs lieutenant:

"Specifically with regard to this matter," she further describes that that there are currently two open, incomplete, and ongoing investigations into the Noble shooting: (1) a criminal investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") and (2) a two-phase criminal and administrative investigation by the City. Casto Decl. 1, 23(a). She explains that although the County of Fresno prosecutor has declined to pursue criminal charges against any of the officers at this time, the criminal phase of that investigation has only been completed on a preliminary basis. Id. She states that the more in-depth administrative phase of the City's investigation could lead to recommendations that a criminal prosecution be commenced. Further, she has been informed and believes that the basis of the FBI investigation is to determine whether federal criminal charges are warranted against any of the involved officers. Casto Decl. 23(g)."

We've asked the department's spokesman to explain the contradiction, as we did in October when the declaration first became public record. At that time, the city of Fresno rejected our public records request. We're waiting for a response again.

The attorney for Dylan Noble's mother says he thinks this is the first time lawyers hired to represent the city in an officer-involved shooting case have been challenged on demands for a gag order for all documents related to the case.

"While I agree that some aspects of police investigation and especially officer personnel files are subject to confidentiality, not all of the evidence and investigation should be kept secret," said Stuart Chandler. "It is patently unfair to those affected by police misconduct, and to the citizens of Fresno as a whole, for the police department to spin whatever story it wants but keep the actual evidence secret. What ever happened to the commitment from the mayor to have transparency and accountability with the FPD?"

Stay tuned to Action News and for updates on this ongoing story.
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