Police Mishandled Investigation Of Officers' Fatal Shooting Of Unarmed Teen, Says Report
A new version of a report by an independent consulting firm contains more criticism of the Pasadena Police Department's investigation into the 2012 shooting of 19-year-old Kendrec McDade.
The most recent version of the report from The Office of Independent Review Group (OIR) concerning the shooting includes multiple sections that were previously unavailable to the public, according to the L.A. Times. The new version was released after an appellate court ruled that the previous report's redactions were too severe and were less about protecting the officers' privacy and more about protecting the Pasadena Police Department from criticism. The Pasadena Police Officers' Association had previously claimed that the report should be confidential as it's part of employment records.
In one part, the report says that the two officers involved in the shooting were not asked if they had thought about warning McDade that they would use deadly force if he didn't cease "his perceived aggressive actions," nor were they asked why they failed to turn on the camera in their patrol car during the pursuit.
Dale L. Gonemeier, McDade's mother's attorney, said the redactions were part of a "cover-up" to protect the police department from reproach.
William Boyer, a spokesperson for the City of Pasadena, said that the redactions were made by the city attorney's office, the city manager's office and the police department, but did not elaborate.
OIR also made 26 recommendations for changing Pasadena Police Department's policy, but it remains unclear if or when these recommendations will be considered, according to KPCC.
McDade was shot and killed by Pasadena Police Officers Jeffrey Newlen and Matthew Griffin on March 24, 2012 after 11 p.m. McDade and another teen had stolen a backpack containing a laptop from 26-year-old Oscar Carrillo's car as he was ordering from a taco truck near the corner of Orange Grove Boulevard and Raymond Avenue, according to the report. Carrillo told police that the two men who stole his backpack were armed with a gun. Recordings from the 9-1-1 call showed that Carrillo made mention of the gun eight times.
Therefore, the two officers were falsely led to believe that McDade was armed. Newlen and Griffin reported spotting McDade at Fair Oaks Avenue and Orange Boulevard, and that he ran from them as soon as he saw them. The two officers chased McDade in their car. Griffin report seeing McDade reach for his waistband several times. At one point, Griffin pulled his gun and steered the car with one hand through a narrow alleyway, scraping the side of the car against the wall. As McDade ran on Sunset Avenue, Newlen got out of the car and pursued McDade on foot, while Griffin used his car to block off McDade. Griffin said McDade turned towards him and then ran in his direction, toward the driver's side oft he car. He said he felt trapped in and vulnerable in the car, and fearing that McDade was going to shoot him, he fired at McDade through the open driver's side window. Newlen also opened fire. McDade fell to the ground and Griffin got out of the car to handcuff him. Griffin forgot to put the patrol car in park, so Newlen jumped in the car and put it in park. McDade was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead during emergency surgery. He had been hit seven times. No gun was ever found.
Carrillo eventually admitted that he had seen no evidence of a weapon, but thought the police would respond sooner if he said he had. Carrillo was later arrested on charges of involuntary manslaughter, and later pleaded guilty to making a false report, for which he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and given a $3,000 fine.
The redacted report was released in March and stated that the officers made tactical decisions that "were not congruent with the principle of officer safety that both may have contributed to a heightened level of fear and caused the driver officer to place himself in an unsafe position so that when McDade suddenly turned in his direction, Officer Griffin felt he had no choice but to use deadly force." These errors included steering the car with one hand, executing the blocking maneuver that put him in the vulnerable position in the first place and failing to put the car in park. They questioned that if Griffin was concerned about being in a vulnerable position by going through an alleyway, why did he do it in the first place?
They also stated that Griffin's decision to pull his gun and steer with only one hand may have contributed to the crash, and that Newlen exited the car and put distance between himself and Griffin while pursuing McDade on foot. The two officers also failed to broadcast to others that they were pursuing a suspect they believed to be armed.
The other teen was ultimately charged with two felony counts of commercial burglary, a felony count of grand theft and one misdemeanor charge of failing to register as a gang member, for which he was sentenced to six months in juvenile camp.