A state appellate court Thursday rejected an effort by the Pasadena police union to block release of an independent investigation into the 2012 fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Kendrec McDade by two Pasadena officers. The court also ordered that at least some sections of the report that had been ordered sealed by a lower court be released, on the grounds that they did not contain privileged personnel information.
Besides turning down the Pasadena Police Officers Association appeal seeking to keep the full report secret, the Court of Appeal for the 2nd Appellate District ruled that trial court Judge James Chalfant erred in Nov. 2014 when he ordered that only 80 percent of the report be released. On the recommendation of Pasadena's city attorney, Chalfant said the rest of the report should be kept sealed because it contained privileged personnel information.
But the appellate court said "a number of redactions proposed by the City [of Pasadena] and largely adopted by the trial court protected not privileged information relating to the officers, but information or findings critiquing conduct by or the policies and practice of" the Pasadena Police Department.
The appellate court ordered Chalfant to reconsider which portions of the report "contain confidential personnel records and order additional material released."
Police union attorney Richard Shinee was unavailable to comment on whether his client would appeal Thursday's ruling to the state supreme court.
Skip Hickambottom, one of the lawyers for Mcdade's mother Anya Slaughter, said in a statement that the ruling "gives the City of Pasadena another self-inflicted black eye" because it "indicates that the [Pasadena] City Attorney was ... using the officers' privacy rights to suppress public disclosure of [the independent investigators'] criticism of the [Pasadena Police Department's] investigations, polices, and practices."
Pasadena City Attorney Michele Begnaris was unavailable for comment.
The city paid Slaughter and McDade's father Kenneth $1 million in June 2014 to settle two lawsuits they had filed.
In the wake of the fatal shooting of McDade by officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen on March 24, 2012, Pasadena hired an outside firm, OIR Group, to investigate the incident. OIR Group, which specializes in police oversight and evaluation, issued its report to the city in the summer of 2014, and the police union subsequently filed suit to block its release.
McDade, 19, was shot by Griffin and Newlen after a 911 caller falsely reported that two men with guns had stolen a backpack from his car.
An internal investigation by the Pasadena Police Department found the two officers acted within departmental policy. The Los Angeles County District Attorney also cleared the officers of any criminal wrongdoing.
Parts of the OIR Group's report were inadvertently released when they were included in a court filing earlier this year. They said Griffin and Newlen had made tactical errors during the incident, and had not been disciplined.
You can read the court's ruling below: