Categories: Featured News

Is Racial Profiling By Police Prevalent in Pasadena, CA?


A story which was shadowed by the death of Trayvon Martin has led to a group of local Pasadena citizens to create an inquiry into the shooting of an unarmed black teen by the Pasadena Police Officers which the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office deemed as justifiable homicide.

Former Azusa High School football standout Kendrec McDade was shot and killed by Pasadena Police Department Officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen on March 24, 2012. According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division report signed by Deputy District Attorney Deborah Delport, McDade was shot eight times by the officers. The D.A. said the shooting was justified.

McDade was shot eight times according to the report, because Griffin believed that he may have told Newlin, “Hey, he’s got a gun?” Is that justification to shoot? McDade was running while holding up his sweatpants. McDade had no firearm and he succumbed to his injuries at Huntington Memorial Hospital.

The incident happened when Oscar Carrillo said that he made a 911 call reporting that a black male was pointing a gun to his abdomen. Carrillo claimed that his laptop had been stolen by two armed men. Carrillo changed his story and said that he lied to detectives. Carrillo was arrested for involuntary manslaughter, but was eventually charged with lying to a 911 dispatcher…which is a misdemeanor.

Carrillo claimed he lied because the response time for a theft from a motor vehicle would not be as quick. Carrillo never saw McDade nor his juvenile acquaintance named Greg E. take the computer, though Greg E. later admitted the theft. Carrillo said he kept the story the same after hearing of the shooting.

Yet the inquiry does not end there. Questions loomed about the shooting after reading the report. Questions like:

    1. Where is the helicopter report?
    2. Was the environment too dark to see the police car?
    3. Is it then possible that because the B&W was “blacked-out”, there was no way to determine if McDade knew that these were officers?

Were the lives of both Officers Griffith and Newlen lives in jeopardy when McDade’s right hand was at his waistband? Apparently so,  according to the Los Angeles County D.A.’s Office. Yet California law paints a different picture:

As civilians, we are neither lawyers nor law enforcement officers, but the inquiry asks questions if the killing was justified. Still as the information is collected and according to news stories, why according to the local Pasadena newspaper, say that the ambulance took more than 30 minutes to arrive? Was there a coverup? Was it to get their story straight because holding your pants up is not a justification to fatally shoot someone? Why were the dashboard camera not turned on? Since McDade was not armed, wouldn’t the red and blue lights from the police car be sufficient enough to make McDade stop? How would McDade know that Griffith and Newlen were officers? They shouted ‘freeze?’ Police?

The report, from my perspective as a civilian, showed me that there was poor tactic, that the shooting from a police car was dangerous and when “[Newlen] believed that McDade was firing at Griffin. McDade then walked toward the rear of the car in a crouched position. McDade started to turn his upper body and look in Newlen’s direction as he stood on the parkway 10 to 15 feet behind him. Newlen heard a second gunshot and saw a muzzle flash. Newlen believed that McDade was firing at him. In fear for his life, Newlen fired his service weapon four to five times until McDade fell to the ground.” Newlen was shooting toward his partner.

Again, where was back up lighting up the area? Why didn’t both Griffith and Newlen call for additional units? After shooting McDade, was the homicide justifiable? We don’t know so that’s why the group is asking for the D.A. to answer questions at the inquiry and to answer the community’s concern. Will the Asst. D.A. show up to answer these questions? Possibly no.

According to sources, both Griffith and Newlen are not doing well. The two are pretty nervous. Currently there is a federal hearing pending. So, as of right now, no one is speaking, because the judge has a gag order on all parties.

Is it possible that Pasadena has a racial profiling problem that’s not being addressed? When minorities make up 90 percent of youth arrests in Pasadena, according to the Pasadena Star News, that question is repeated over and over again…many say yes.

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