An open wound
NAACP president demands release of report on McDade shooting
By André Coleman 04/30/2014
What’s taking so long?
That’s the question being asked by Gary Moody, president of the NAACP Pasadena Branch, about the March 24, 2012 officer-involved shooting death of 19-year-old Kendrec McDade.
Unlike other incidents it has investigated involving police officers, some of which have taken several months to complete, the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review (OIR) has not yet completed its report on the McDade shooting.
Although OIR has not yet completed its probe, and the US Justice Department is still looking into the incident, the shooting has been investigated by the Pasadena Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the county District Attorney’s Office. The latter three agencies have cleared the officers, Jeffrey Newlen and Matthew Griffin, of any wrongdoing.
The city and the Police Department are being sued by McDade’s parents, Anya Slaughter and Kenneth McDade, in federal court.
On Tuesday, US District Judge Dolly Gee took no action on the city’s efforts to exclude evidence that McDade was unarmed at the time he was shot, and that he had asked an emergency worker “Why did they shoot me?” while being transported to Huntington Hospital, where he was declared dead from seven gunshot wounds he suffered.
Gee also decided to wait until sometime this week to decide on the city’s request to postpone trial until the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had an opportunity to decide on the city’s request to have the case thrown out. Gee had previously ruled against the city’s motion for what is known as summary judgment.
No more delays
In a letter addressed to City Councilwoman Jacque Robinson, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, Moody said the emotional wound inflicted on the community by the McDade shooting can only be healed by an unbiased investigation.
“The Kendrec McDade shooting continues to divide our city ever since it occurred in March 2012,” Moody wrote. “The wound that it has left in our community will only heal with a transparent and independent civilian review of the surround the case. The civilian review is what the city has paid the OIR to accomplish. The delay by city administrators in making the OIR report public cannot be tolerated.”
Michael Gennaco, OIR lead attorney, said that a draft of the report has been submitted to city officials. However, it has been sent back for further review.
“Most of our work is done,” Gennaco told the Weekly. “We are waiting to hear from the city. They are fact-checking a few things. We always want to make sure we get our facts right and give the city a chance to get their facts straight before we go to the next steps.”
Gennaco would not elaborate on which facts were being confirmed. The OIR has asked the Police Department for more information several times and has presented the department with a draft copy of the report on at least one occasion.
After the fact-check is complete, a copy of the report will be released to City Manager Michael Beck and disseminated to the media, Gennaco said.
No weapon found
According to a Department of Coroner report, McDade was shot seven times by Griffin and Newlen, who have maintained that they believed McDade was armed and potentially dangerous at the time they confronted him on Sunset Avenue, near North Orange Grove Boulevard. Authorities have said the two officers were on high alert after Oscar Carrillo-Gonzales told a 911 dispatcher that he had been robbed at gunpoint by two black men at around 11 p.m. the night of the shooting.
Police responded to that call and later saw McDade and another youth running from the scene near Orange Grove Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue.
The two officers chased McDade in their patrol car. McDade cut through a parking lot on Fair Oaks and made his way to Sunset, where he ran south to Orange Grove. He then turned right, or west. McDade then abruptly reversed course and ran north on Sunset.
Newlen jumped out of the car while Griffin backed up, then threw the car in drive and gave chase at up to 50 mph without turning on his emergency lights, according to Judge Gee’s rejection of the city’s request for summary judgment.
After the shooting, police conducted an extensive search for the gun that Carrillo-Gonzales claimed McDade used in the robbery, but did not find a weapon. During questioning, Carrillo-Gonzales admitted to police that he had lied about the gun to get a quicker response. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of filing a false police report and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
A minor accomplice with McDade that night admitted to stealing a laptop from Carrillo-Gonzales car. Video surveillance footage allegedly shows the pair attempting to break into the cash register at a taco stand where they encountered Carrillo-Gonzalez. The minor was sentenced to six months in a juvenile camp.
Need to know
Almost immediately after the shooting, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez asked the OIR to open a probe into the shooting.
The OIR, which was established by the Board of Supervisors to investigate shootings and other incidents involving sheriff’s deputies and officers with other law enforcement agencies, including Pasadena, investigates procedural and policy matters involved with a given case.
On April 1, Gee denied a motion by the city’s attorneys to dismiss the case.
In their motions to dismiss evidence, attorneys for the city argued that an officer can use deadly force if he or she has probable cause to believe a suspect represents a danger to police or the community. Attorneys for the city claimed the officers had probable cause to believe McDade was armed due to the call placed by Carrillo-Gonzales, who had lied eight times to a 911 dispatcher.
The Pasadena Police Department announced in February that the OIR would no longer investigate officer-involved shootings. Sanchez said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department would investigate future shootings involving officers. The council took no action on Moody’s request.
“The citizens of Pasadena should not have to wait over two years to have a judge provide them with the equivalent of an independent civilian review of the Kendrec McDade shooting. The city’s administration has suspiciously terminated the city’s long-standing relationship with the OIR while bottling-up the OIR’s report,” Moody wrote. “The citizens of Pasadena need to know if the OIR has reached the same conclusion as Judge Gee.”