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Criminal Justice

No Charges From LA DA In Fatal Shooting Of Anthony McClain By A Pasadena Officer

Children hold homemade signs reading: "Say His Name Anthony McClain," "Black Lives Matter Pasadena" and "Justice for Anthony McClain."
Protesters included children after the fatal police shooting of Anthony McClain.
(Brian Feinzimer)
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Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón has declined to file charges in a controversial fatal police shooting of a Pasadena man.

On August 15, 2020, Pasadena police officer Edwin Dumaguindin shot Anthony McClain in the back as McClain fled from a traffic stop. McClain was a passenger in a car officers pulled over for having no front license plate.

A memo from the DA's office released late Wednesday says there's insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer did not act in self defense.

The memo is dated March 31 and was released the same day Gascón said he will not charge five Inglewood police officers in another controversial shooting that took six years to decide and spanned two District Attorneys' administrations.

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Dumaguindin said he saw a gun in McClain's hand as he ran away, and that he shot him when McClain briefly looked back at him, making the officer fear McClain was going to open fire.

A gun was recovered from the scene.

Last fall, Pasadena agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit by one of McClain's relatives.

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In a statement released late Wednesday, Gascón noted that his office had informed McClain's family about the decision not to file charges, saying, "this is excruciating" and the family is "understandably devastated." The DA added: "We do want to be clear: the burden of proof for prosecution is high. Our decision does not mean that what happened is right."

Following the shooting, LAist asked three use-of-force experts to review the videos released of the fatal encounter to try to answer this question: How can you tell if a police officer was justified in fatally shooting someone?

LAist's Robert Garrova reported:

Answering that question can be extremely hard, even when there's video of the entire incident.

Take the case of Anthony McClain, a 32-year-old Black man shot and killed Aug. 15 by a Pasadena police officer as he ran away from a traffic stop.

The shooting touched off protests in Pasadena -- it came amid a summer of demonstrations against police brutality sparked by the videotaped killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

In McClain's case, it wasn't a bystander's cell phone video that showed what happened. The Pasadena Police Department released dashboard and body-cam video of the encounter.

We asked three use-of-force experts to review the videos. Two of them thought the shooting seemed justified. One felt it may not have been.
What questions do you have about Southern California?