Although the lead attorney of a police watchdog group told the Pasadena Weekly that a report examining Pasadena Police Department procedure’s in a 2012 shooting incident in which a 19-year-old unarmed man was shot and killed by officers would be finished this week, NAACP Pasadena Branch President Gary Moody held out little hope that the report would be released.
“This has taken about two months,” said Moody. “We have been hearing that the report would be ready in the next few weeks since May. The longer it takes the more bad news I expect to come out of it.”
The city asked the Office of Independent Review (OIR) to investigate the officer-involved shooting death of Kendrec McDade in 2012. McDade was shot and killed by Pasadena Police Officers Jeffrey Newlen and Matthew Griffin on Sunset Avenue in Northwest Pasadena after he and a 17-year-old friend stole a backpack from a car parked near a taco stand. The vehicle’s owner, Oscar Carrillo-Gonzales, made a 911 call after the theft and told police he had been robbed at gunpoint by two black men. Carrillo-Gonzales mentioned a gun eight times during the call, which city officials say led the officers to believe McDade was armed.
At the end of a pursuit, the officers said Kendrec turned and ran towards them, prompting them to open fire, shooting McDade eight times.
McDade’s parents settled two lawsuits with the city with his mother, Anya Slaughter, receiving $850,000, and his father, Kenneth McDade, receiving $187,500, according to the statement.
Officers Newlen and Griffin were cleared in the shooting by the LA County Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office and by an internal investigation. In June, the department said that the FBI had determined that McDade’s rights had not been violated in the shooting. The OIR probe is the only remaining investigation in the matter.
Local advocates have been waiting for the release of the report since the shooting and have grown impatient over the past several months.
The OIR was created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to monitor the Sheriff’s Department and provide legal advice to ensure that allegations of officer misconduct involving LASD and other departments are investigated thoroughly.
In the two previous officer-involved shootings investigated by the OIR, the group completed its report in about a year. Local officials have said that they have received several drafts from the OIR and queries for more information.
“We plan to turn it over in the next week or so,” said OIR Lead Attorney Michael Gennaco. “The city will examine it and you’re probably looking at a two to three week window before it is released.”
The pending report could be the last time the OIR and the city Police Department work together. Sanchez announced in March that he will go to the Sheriff’s Department for outside investigations of local officer-involved shootings, not the OIR.
“We look forward to seeing the report from the group and we will review their findings and recommendations with an open mind,” said Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez. “I have no idea what it will say. I would like to absorb it for what it is with an open mind. Although we strive for excellence we are not a perfect organization. We will direct our attention and resources towards any recommendations.”
But instead of waiting on those recommendations, several groups including the NAACP have already called for action. Those groups, including the ACLU Pasadena Foothills Chapter, have called on the city to start a civilian oversight committee to provide independent oversight on use-of-force complaints and hire an independent auditor to oversee the Police Department’s investigation of use-of-force incidents.
On July 22, more than 50 people attended a debate on civilian oversight of the Pasadena Police Department between District 6 Councilman Steve Madison and ACLU Attorney Peter Bibring at the Donald Wright Auditorium at the Pasadena Central Library.
Bibring argued that the city should hire an independent auditor to oversee the department, especially in cases involving the use of force, in order to restore the community’s trust of the department by installing independent accountability. Madison said the department did not need an auditor and said the added layer of review would only create more bureaucracy and countered that there was no systemic corruption in the department or a resistance to change by the department’s management. The debate was moderated by ACT co-chair and former Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, sponsored by ACT and cosponsored by Pasadena NAACP, All Saints Church, ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter, the Pasadena Foothills Democratic Club, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Pasadena Latino Forum and Coalition for Increased Oversight of Pasadena Police.
Mayor Bill Bogaard, Pasadena City Council members Victor Gordo and Margaret McAustin, and former PUSD School Board member Esteban Lizardo attended the event. City Council members Jacque Robinson, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, and John Kennedy, the only advocate on the council of at least studying civilian oversight, did not attend.
The department’s use-of-force incidents during arrests have dropped by about 33 percent since 2012. Last year there were 35 such incidents during 6,630 arrests. That number is down from 52 and 53 use-of-force incidents in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The decline in the use of force during arrests resulted in 57 investigations against local police officers, down from 89 the year before.
Allegations made by members of the public against officers have included rudeness, refusal to take a crime report and false arrest.
Of those 57, 12 officers faced disciplinary action. Five of them were suspended. Five received verbal warnings and two were ordered to undergo training.
In 2012, Broghamer, Detective Keith Gomez and Officer Kevin Okamoto were cleared in eight separate investigations surrounding allegations that they beat up suspects, threatened witnesses and hid evidence. Earlier that year, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge declared a mistrial in a murder trial after admonishing Broghamer and Okamoto for hiding exculpatory evidence that would have helped defendants Jerrell Sanford and Michael Grigsby in a 2007 homicide.
Despite the decline use of force incidents, a handful of critics point to the conduct of several officers, including Detective William Broghamer who is currently being investigated for statements he made on tape. In those statements, Broghamer reportedly told a fellow officer to “Just pin it on anybody,” while discussing a homicide. Broghamer later told a courtroom he was joking when he made the statement. In another case, Broghamer told a suspect, “I’ll lie to fry your ass.”
“We want to make sure that everybody is treated fairly,” Moody told the Weekly. “In light of what we are hearing now, it concerns me that there are things in the OIR report they don’t want us to see.”
Bibring said that the issue comes down to trust, and made the case that many people in the community, especially those in Northwest Pasadena, do not trust the police. Madison said that the city council and the Public Safety Committee have adequate access and review of the department. Council members are elected by Pasadena residents, therefore the community can hold the department accountable, he said.
Essentially, Bibring argued that in order to restore the community’s trust in the police, the city needs to hire an independent auditor to oversee the department, and Madison argued that the existing levels of review are adequate.n
Reporter Justin Chapman contributed to this story.