Called into question
Kennedy says constituents want answers about police chief’s involvement in shootings
By André Coleman 11/20/2013
Pasadena City Councilman John Kennedy said residents in his district are calling for more answers regarding Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez’s involvement in five nonfatal officer-involved shootings that happened when Sanchez worked as a police officer in Santa Monica.
“All I can tell them is that I didn’t know,” Kennedy said. The council’s Public Safety Committee, he said, “is in a position to at least ask about these incidents under the leadership of our chair, Vice Mayor Jacque Robinson.” Kennedy also sits on that committee, which did not discuss the issue at its meeting Monday.
Kennedy and Sanchez were scheduled to appear together on Wednesday at a District 3 town hall meeting at the Jackie Robinson Center in Northwest Pasadena.
The two have been at odds for several months over civilian oversight of the Pasadena Police Department. Kennedy wants a study to determine if such a committee is feasible. Sanchez is happy with the current structure, which calls for oversight to be performed by the Public Safety Committee.
Sanchez’s involvement in the shootings was the focus of a 23-minute video clip posted on YouTube last week just hours after Sanchez had completed a five-hour long deposition. Sanchez was questioned by two attorneys regarding the March 2012 officer-involved shooting of Kendrec McDade, an unarmed teenager who was shot and killed after a man falsely told police that McDade had robbed him at gunpoint. McDade’s parents have filed separate lawsuits against the city, both claiming wrongful death.
“Each of them was investigated and I was cleared in administrative reviews and by the District Attorney’s Office,” Sanchez told the Weekly of the shootings in which he was involved. “I was exonerated every time and the force was deemed appropriate. Each of the suspects was a high-profile, dangerous criminal.”
Sanchez said he responded to the questions without any documents and that the deposition was posted on YouTube before a transcript of the video deposition was returned for his review.
Sanchez was twice award the Medal of Courage for separate incidents that occurred during his time in Santa Monica.
In one case, while on patrol he noticed two masked men herding several restaurant employees into a back room and rushed to their aid and managed to arrest the two suspects without firing any shots. In a second incident, he saved his partner’s life after his partner was shot in the chest while they were serving a search warrant to a suspect.
“You don’t go home the same person, no matter how many investigations you go through,” Sanchez said. “I don’t think any police officer wakes up in the morning and says I am going to go have a shooting today.”
Kennedy said the community needs to hear from Sanchez about those shooting incidents.
“What we have learned over the last several days causes reasons to inquire further and I think that is natural for elected representatives as well as the community,” Kennedy said. “Some answers must come to the community.”