Exeter teen shot by officers is charged with assault
woodlake – An Exeter man who was shot several times during a run-in with police earlier this year is now being charged with assaulting the officers. On July 12, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office announced that Adonis Serna, 18, of Exeter is being charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer, one count of vehicle theft and one count of resisting arrest.
The charges were read in Tulare County Superior Court during an arraignment on July 19 before Judge Brett Alldredge. Serna’s attorney, Douglas Hurt, appeared on his behalf because Serna remains in a San Jose hospital bed paralyzed from the waist down after being shot several times, including a few in the back, when he was confronted by Woodlake and Exeter officers on April 26, 2017.
The shooting happened just after 3 p.m. when the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department notified the Woodlake Police Department of a vehicle stolen out of the Porterville area being spotted in town. Officers with the Woodlake and Exeter police departments responded separately and corralled the car on Sequoia Avenue behind Woodlake High School. As officers got out of the car to approach the stolen vehicle, Serna reportedly put the car in reverse and attempted to run over one of the officers and hit the officer’s vehicle. Both officers then opened fire into the vehicle striking Serna several times. Serna was taken to Kaweah Delta Medical Center before being airlifted to Regional Medical Center of San Jose. Neither of the officers were injured and both were placed on administrative leave by their respective agencies.
The names of the officers involved in the shooting have not been released despite a ruling by the California Supreme Court that police departments do not have the right to conceal their names. The 6-1 decision on May 29, 2014 stated that the names must be released unless the department can provide strong support for withholding the names, such as protecting the identify of an undercover officer or if the officer or his family is in danger.
The Exeter and Woodlake police departments did not return calls as of press time. Neither police report has been made public. The investigation into the officer involved shooting is being handled by the Farmersville and Visalia police departments. It is standard practice to hand over investigations of police shootings to a third party department. The results of their investigations have not been made public.
Assistant District Attorney David Alavezos said Judge Alldredge continued the arraignment to Oct. 16 when Serna can either appear in court or the arraignment will be held in his hospital room between the judge, Serna’s attorney and Alavezos. During the hearing, Hurt demanded that the DA’s Office hand over all of the evidence in the case while Alavezos requested a new judge. Alavezos said all of the evidence is available to Hurt now that the court has recognized him as Serna’s attorney.
“Mr. Hurt seems to want to try this case in the media but we would rather go through the normal justice process,” Alavezos said.
Hurt has filed a claim with the City of Woodlake in regards to their handling of the case but it has yet to be taken up by the Woodlake City Council. The City can either accept the claim and pay for outlined damages or reject the claim (which happens in almost every instance), in which case claimants normally file a formal lawsuit through either State or Federal court. Hurt did not return calls as of press time.