Pasadena police shooting of Kendrec McDade was justified, D.A. says
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Pasadena police officers acted lawfully when they fatally shot an unarmed college student, prosecutors said Monday.
The officers reasonably believed Kendrec McDade, 19, was armed with a gun based on false information from a 911 caller, according to a report on the March shooting released Monday by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
The controversial shooting sparked protests and outrage in Pasadena, with some drawing comparisons to the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida.
McDade, 19, was killed March 24 when Officers Jeffrey Newlen and Mathew Griffin responded to a report of an armed theft of a man near a taco truck in northwest Pasadena.
‘The actions of McDade during the pursuit in conjunction with the information known to the officers at the time of the shooting reasonably created a fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury,’ Deputy Dist. Atty. Deborah A. Delport wrote in the report. ‘Once the officers perceived that McDade posed an apparent lethal threat their response with deadly force was justified.’
In a detailed account, prosecutors revealed that after one officer shot and wounded McDade, the second officer -- believing McDade had opened fire -- shot him after he was probably already wounded.
According to prosecutors, McDade fled on foot up Sunset Street with his right hand at his waist. As he ran, Officer Griffin sped past him in a patrol cruiser and blocked the street as Officer Newlen chased him on foot. McDade was about to run past the cruiser when he turned and ran directly toward the cruiser where Griffin was seated.
‘He left the sidewalk and he’s running at me,’ Griffin told investigators. ‘This -- this scares the crap out of me. I don’t know why he is running at me. He’s still clutching his waistband. I think he’s got a gun. I’m stuck in the car. I got no where to go.’ Fearing for his life, Griffin said he fired four times through the open driver’s side window. McDade was two or three feet away. Griffin said he then ducked down to his right to avoid being hit by shots he expected from McDade. He heard two shots and believed McDade had fired at him.
Newlen told investigators he heard the gunshots and believed McDade ‘was firing at Griffin.’
He described seeing McDade walk toward the rear of the car and crouch down. Newlen said he heard a second gunshot at that point and saw muzzle flash. Believing McDade was firing at him, Newlen fired four or five shots at McDade, who fell to the ground after being hit.
McDade was later found to be unarmed. He was carrying a cellphone in his pocket.
In addition to confusion over who was firing shots, the two officers were operating on a false premise that McDade had committed an armed robbery. Oscar Carrillo, who reported that his computer had been stolen, had falsely told police that he had been robbed at gunpoint and later claimed he saw what he thought was the barrel of a gun.
A security video shows another young man taking a computer from Carrillo’s car. McDade is seen only at the rear of the car.
According to an autopsy, McDade suffered three fatal wounds and five other non-lethal rounds.
The shooting has prompted four separate inquiries and a lawsuit by the family.
In a federal lawsuit, McDade’s parents, Anya Slaughter and Kenneth McDade, allege their son was shot multiple times in the chest but did not die immediately. According to the lawsuit, McDade tried to speak with the officer, but was handcuffed and started to ‘twitch’ and was left on the street for a prolonged period of time without receiving first aid.
-- Richard Winton and Adolfo Flores