Crime & Justice

Kendrec McDade shooting: Pasadena City Council appears divided on what to do next

File: Pasadena City Hall, the day after a full week's rain, Jan. 23, 2010.
File: Pasadena City Hall, the day after a full week's rain, Jan. 23, 2010.
File photo by Ross Berteig/Flickr Creative Commons

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The 2012 shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by Pasadena police has sparked a debate within the city about when and how police use force. A recent meeting with police officials and independent investigators looking into the incident indicated city leaders are divided on what to do. 

The special meeting started with a review of police conduct during the shooting authored by the Office of Independent Review, an outside consulting firm. The report made 26 recommendations for reform of Pasadena PD policy in the wake of Kendrec McDade’s death. 

"My sense is we don’t have a police department that’s resistant to external independent review," said Councilmember Steve Madison early on, praising the department's response to the report.

But Councilmember Victor Gordo took issue with the report, disputing conclusions that Pasadena PD could have conducted a more thorough review, or given more feedback to the officers involved.

"What transpired in this incident is exactly what our policy calls for," said Gordo, who also criticized the report itself for including information the city has so far refused to release, citing personnel privacy.

Tyron Hampton, representing Pasadena's first district, said he agreed with the report's assertion that Pasadena PD did not conduct a thorough investigation into the shooting.

Other council members questioned the tactics police used during the shooting. Councilmember Margaret McAustin asked Police Chief Phillip Sanchez about the officers’ decision to not to turn on lights and sirens while pursuing McDade.

"I'm not a police officer.  I'm not a lawyer,"  McAustin said. "It just seems to me that if someone is told they have a gun and they’re running, that the first thing you would do is use your lights and siren in an effort to cause them to sort of freeze or recognize that they’re in big trouble."

It’s unclear whether or when the city council will consider implementing the OIR’s recommendations. The city clerk’s office said it was not on any future council agendas.