The attorney representing the mother of Kendrec McDade -- the 19-year-old was fatally shot by Pasadena police on March 24 -- called a district attorney report Monday that determined the officers acted lawfully “not surprising, but very disappointing.”
The report, issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division, found that the two police officers who shot McDade during an armed robbery call acted “in lawful self-defense and defense of each other.”
Pasadena police officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen shot McDade several times while pursuing him along Sunset Avenue in Northwest Pasadena shortly after 11 p.m. , believing he was armed with a gun based on false information from a 911 caller.
McDade was unarmed, but investigators determined that “once the officers perceived that McDade posed an apparent lethal threat their response with deadly force was justified," according to the report.
According to police, McDade was clutching his waistband as he ran away from and then charged toward officers, leading Griffin and Newlen to believe he was carrying a gun.
Griffin is quoted in the report as telling investigators that McDade “left the sidewalk and he’s running at me. This -- this scares the crap out of me. I don’t know why he’s running at me.He’s stiff clutching his waistband. I think he’s got a gun. I’m stuck in the car. I got nowhere to go.”
In her wrongful death lawsuit, McDade’s mother, Anya Slaughter, claims officers fabricated accounts of her son reaching for his waistband in order to justify the shooting.
The suit also alleges that police agencies in general have adopted a practice of falsely claiming that unarmed suspects were reaching for their waistbands before being shot by police.
The shooting sparked widespread protests in Pasadena, particularly in the aftermath of the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida.
Slaughter’s attorney, Dale Galipo, said Monday that the public is starting to realize there’s something wrong when “unarmed people are being shot [by police], and every one of them is reaching in their waistbands. “
“All these unarmed people reaching into their waistbands when there’s nothing in their waistbands is not believable,” he said.
A civil rights inquiry by the FBI and a probe by Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, a civilian watchdog group, are still pending.
Pasadena Police Chief Phil Sanchez released a statement Monday saying the shooting was “tragic for everyone involved," and that his department continued to await the results of the other inquiries.
“These incidents bear a significant emotional impact on the community and the police department," he said.
McDade’s father, Kenneth McDade, is represented by attorney Caree Harper, who could not immediately be reached for comment after the report was issued Monday.
But earlier in the day, Harper said she suspected investigators were waiting to release their findings until public attention had faded from the case.
“It’s sad someone like this kid is the flavor of the month,” she said. “These agencies wait long enough and something else comes along and takes the media attention away.”
-- Joe Piasecki, Times Community News
Follow Joe Piasecki on Twitter: @JoePiasecki.