The Fresno Police Department's first officer-involved shooting of the year Thursday also gave the city's first-ever police auditor his initial chance to monitor a police investigation.
Eddie J. Aubrey, who was appointed in November as director of the city's new Office of Independent Review, spoke at the news conference after Police Chief Jerry Dyer gave an account of the shooting.
Dyer said an officer shot a man in his 40s after the man refused to show his hands and made a movement toward his pants -- as if to pull a weapon -- after stealing a purse from an 85-year-old woman in a central Fresno supermarket parking lot.
The man, whose name was not available, was shot in the rear of his right shoulder. Dyer said the wound is not life-threatening.
"This is exactly why the Office of Independent Review was created -- so that we could have an objective person come on the scene to monitor the investigation from start to finish and give that objective viewpoint," Dyer said.
Aubrey, who has nearly 30 years of public-service experience, including 14 as a police officer in Southern California, said his charge "is to respond to the scene ... and monitor the process of the investigation all the way until the conclusion."
Aubrey said his responsibilities include "seeing exactly what is going on, getting updates from the officers, finding out what's going on in the interviews, what's stated in the interviews."
Once the investigation is completed, Aubrey said, he will conduct an audit.
Aubrey said he will review department processes and determine "if they're following best practices." He said also reviews the investigation's accuracy.
Aubrey, who reports to the city manager, declined to predict when his report on Thursday's shooting will be completed, or how much of it will be public record.
City officials for more for than a decade debated the wisdom of an independent police auditor. Mayor Ashley Swearengin made the position one of her 2008 mayoral campaign issues, and a divided City Council approved it on March 24.
In 2009, Fresno police shot 10 people, six of whom died. In 2008, police shot seven people, two fatally.
Dyer provided the following information during the news conference at Blackstone and Yale avenues, about a block from the shooting site:
A witness called police shortly after noon Thursday to report an armed robbery in the parking lot of the Save Mart Supermarket at Blackstone and Clinton avenues. The witness, following the alleged robber by car, told police the man's whereabouts. The witness saw the man run inside a nearby meat market and then run out the back.
Two plainclothes officers in an unmarked car who happened to be in the area saw the suspect and chased him on foot to the parking lot of the Pizza Hut restaurant near Blackstone and Yale avenues. The suspect refused to follow officers' commands. One officer shot the suspect after he appeared to go for a weapon.
The suspect was shot in the back, at the right shoulder. Dyer said he did not know if the suspect had turned away from the officer before he was shot.
The suspect allegedly brandished a weapon when he robbed the woman as she left the market, Dyer said. Police found a loaded silver revolver in the suspect's pants, he said.
Police also found the woman's checkbook and other items from her purse in the suspect's possession, Dyer said. The suspect allegedly ditched the purse, which officers later found.
The suspect was taken to Community Regional Medical Center for treatment. Dyer said his wound was not life-threatening. More information about the suspect's identity was not immediately available.
Read the full story at the Fresno Bee.