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Back to Court

Attorneys for the city and local activists will once again argue that a report analyzing events leading up to and following the officer-involved fatal shooting of an African-American teenager should be unsealed. 


At 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Court of Appeals in Los Angeles, attorneys are expected to say the Pasadena Police Officer’s Association (PPOA) relinquished the confidentiality rights of two officers after attorneys with the PPOA quoted a portion of the Office of Independent Review Group (OIR) probe into the shooting death of Kendrec McDade in a court brief.


According to that document, the OIR reported that the officers made several tactical errors while pursuing McDade on the evening of March 24, 2012. Local attorney Skip Hickambottom wrote a brief calling on the court to unseal the report. In that motion, Hickambottom contends that the officers gave up their right to confidentiality after their attorneys quoted the very document they have been seeking to suppress.


“Privilege is waived with respect to a communication protected by the privilege if any holder of the privilege, without coercion, has disclosed a significant part of the communication or has consented to disclosure made by anyone on his behalf,” Hickambottom wrote.


McDade was shot and killed by Officers Jeffrey Newlen and Matthew Griffin on Sunset Avenue near Orange Grove Boulevard. The officers began pursuing McDade after they received calls about an armed robbery on Orange Grove, near Summit Avenue, and shot and killed McDade after a brief pursuit.


The officers, who were told McDade was armed, were cleared of wrongdoing by an internal investigation, the US Justice Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 


Immediately after the shooting, city officials promised transparency in the OIR investigation, but later announced they would not release the report because it contains confidential personnel information about the two officers.


The PPOA later received a temporary injunction barring the release of the report, but Los Angeles Superior Court James Chalfant eventually ordered the city to release a redacted version of the document. However, the PPOA received an emergency injunction from the appellate court in December, preventing that from happening.

Back to court

Former Pasadena Unified School District special volunteer John Laurence Whitaker will be up for arraignment on a murder charge Friday in Orange County Superior Court.

It will be Whitaker’s seventh chance in more than a year to make a plea.

Known formerly in Pasadena as John Whitaker Betances, Whitaker is accused of strangling Patricia Ann Carpenter, a Los Angeles prostitute, in 1983 and dumping her body in Laguna Beach.

Using DNA evidence, Santa Monica police have also connected Whitaker to the 1975 murder of Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School District employee Bodil Rasmussen, and expect to file a charge.

Whitaker was taken into custody July 30, 2004, after failing to register as a sex offender in Gresham, Ore., where he was living in a trailer with the mother of a woman he had met over the Internet.

Orange County investigators traveled to Oregon to arrest him for Carpenter’s murder. He is being held at the Harbor Justice Center without bail.

According to Santa Monica Police Detective Frank Fabrega, Whitaker was questioned in connection with the Rasmussen case in 1975 and released due to a lack of evidence. Evidence collected during the investigation of the crime was re-submitted in June 2004 to the LA County crime lab for processing, which, like the evidence taken at the Carpenter crime scene, came back with a DNA match to Whitaker.

While living in Pasadena as a registered sex offender, Whitaker posed as a decorated Vietnam veteran and retired Army colonel.

He served as a head volunteer for the local DADS (Dads Are Doing Something) program, which sought to get fathers more involved in their children’s lives.

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