Central Valley
Central Valley
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Fresno Police Kill 2 Unarmed Men this Week
by Mike Rhodes (editor [at]
Wednesday Oct 28th, 2009 7:10 PM
The Fresno police have killed 3 unarmed men in the last 5 weeks. Two of them were killed this week (today and yesterday). A lot of people think the police are out of control, some are demanding an Independent Police Auditor, and others think a more active Copwatch program will help. The ACLU is considering asking the Department of Justice to investigate the situation. Photo below: Steven Vargas
Fresno Police officers shot and killed John Cooper in northwest Fresno today. According to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Cooper called 911 and said he would "shoot the first cop I see.” Dyer said the man called the police a second time and said he wanted to kill himself. Officers arrived at Marks and Santa Ana Avenues at a little after 10 a.m. They saw Cooper, who had what appeared to be a gun pointed to his head, according to Dyer. Dyer said Cooper pointed what turned out to be a toy gun at the officers and they opened fire.

Yesterday, Fresno police officers killed 32 year old Steven Vargas of Fresno. Vargas was involved in a car accident on McKinley avenue in central Fresno. An officer arrived on the scene and ordered Vargas out of his car. When he refused, the officer, whose name the FPD will not release, opened fire killing Vargas. No weapon was found in either incident.

Police chief Dyer said yesterday that Vargas was armed, that he was on parole, and possibly had a warrant out for his arrest. In a press release issued today, the Fresno County Sheriff’s department said that Vargas did not have a weapon and was not on parole. The Sheriff’s department is investigating because the incident happened on a county island. Nothing more has been said about Dyer’s allegation of an outstanding warrant.

On September 23, Lonnie Graham was shot to death by Fresno police officers when he stepped out of a house with a cell phone in his hand. The officers involved said they feared for their lives. Graham was found to be un-armed. At a press conference after that shooting, Dyer said Graham was a gang member, that someone might have seen him armed recently, and that he had an extensive criminal record.

Background on the Lonnie Graham incident is here:

Groups in Fresno working on Police Accountability:

American Civil Liberties Association (ACLU)
Greater Fresno Area Chapter of Northern California
4974 N Fresno St., #185
Fresno, CA 93726-0317
simonaclu [at]

Central California Criminal Justice Committee
Post Office Box 4555
Fresno, CA 93744
(559) 229-9807

Fresno Copwatch
xyfloyd [at]

also, see:
Will We Have Effective Police Oversight in Fresno?

§Lonnie Graham
by Mike Rhodes Wednesday Oct 28th, 2009 7:10 PM
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Shoot To Kill Is Not The Only OptionS TakierMonday Jul 1st, 2019 7:26 AM
Culpepper Virginia-Officer Danny Harmon Wright VS Fresno California-Sgt. Mike PalaminoPrashanth RajendranThursday Aug 22nd, 2013 12:08 PM
Vargas DiD NOT have a gun not even a play gunSophiaFriday Nov 13th, 2009 8:17 PM
Connecting the dotsMike RhodesThursday Nov 5th, 2009 10:19 PM
no written policyjcMonday Nov 2nd, 2009 8:50 AM
Response to BenMike RhodesSaturday Oct 31st, 2009 8:48 AM
Point a toy gun at the police surprised when they shoot at you? Huh?BenThursday Oct 29th, 2009 9:31 PM
sounds like Washington case where cop is now charged with manslaughterstop killer cops!Wednesday Oct 28th, 2009 7:36 PM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


Donate Now!

$ 90.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network