Police shooting of unarmed Fresno teen sparks protest and calls for answers

Days after hundreds of people took to the streets demanding answers, the police shooting of an unarmed Fresno teen has sparked an online petition calling on officers to release body camera footage of the incident.

Thousands of people have signed the online petition demanding the Fresno Police Department release body camera footage showing its officers’ encounter with 19-year-old Dylan Noble before he was fatally shot.

“We want Dylan's story,” the petition reads. “We want to know why an unarmed hard-working productive member of society was shot and lost his life. We need the body cam evidence to be admissible in a court of law.”

According to the Police Department, officers responded to a report of man walking with a rifle about 3:20 p.m. Saturday.

As they searched for the man, officers saw a black pickup truck speeding in the area. They tried to stop it. But the truck continued traveling for half a mile. The truck finally pulled into a Chevron station, police said.

“During the traffic stop, the driver refused to show his hands to the officers, making a conscious effort to conceal one hand behind his back, then in his waistband, as he exited the truck, and walked away from officers,” Lt. Burke Farrah said in a prepared statement.

Officers repeatedly asked Noble to show his hands and get on the ground.

With one hand still behind his back, Noble turned toward the officers and said “he hated his life,” Farrah said.

Noble then advanced toward the officers and was shot four times, he said.

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He was taken to an area hospital and died during surgery.

Farrah told The Times that Noble did not have a weapon.

The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters the shooting was “an unfortunate tragedy.”

It was the sixth police shooting for the department this year, officials said. There have been nine police shootings since 2015.

“You have a family that has lost a loved one, a 19-year-old son, and I am sure they have a lot of questions,” Dyer said. “Questions that we don’t have answers for at this time.”

Because the investigation is still ongoing, Dyer said body camera footage would not be released. He said releasing the videos could “taint” witness accounts.

In a large and emotional vigil, friends, family and Fresno residents gathered Saturday at the Chevron station.

Some demonstrators carried a large Confederate flag as they confronted police, while others posted signs at a memorial that said “Justice for Dylan,” and “White Lives Matter.”  

Videos of the gathering posted online show dozens of motorcycles and trucks participating in a lively sideshow. Drivers revved their engines and raced down a strip of road as they were cheered by onlookers.

The large gathering drew a bevy of officers, who blocked the road for safety, Lt. Joe Alvarez told reporters. At one point, police allowed a man participating in the vigil to address the crowd of mourners to calm them.

The crowd of people, Alvarez said, were “trying to express their 1st Amendment right.”

“People are grieving and we have to understand that,” he said.

Described as an outgoing teen, the Clovis High graduate had recently started working in construction and wanted to be a professional DJ, the Fresno Bee reported. The teen loved bull riding, dirt bikes and the outdoors.

 Friends and family were stunned by police statements indicating that Noble possibly wanted to end his life.

“He loved life. He absolutely loved life,” Noble’s friend Megan Sullivan told the newspaper.

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