Oscar Carrillo, 911 Caller in Kendrec McDade Police Shooting, Arrested for Lying to Cops
Kendrec McDade was killed by two cops last weekend.
Updated at the bottom with AUDIO of the 911 call that led to Kendrec McDade's death. Plus, we talk to his family's attorney about the possible mishandling of this case by the Pasadena PD.
It appears 19-year-old college student and former high-school football star Kendrec McDade really is the next Trayvon Martin.
Pasadena police announced today that a resident who called 911 on Saturday night -- to report that McDade and a 17-year-old accomplice were armed and trying to rob his vehicle -- was lying about the weapon. They've arrested him on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter.
The suspect's name is Oscar Carrillo, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
On the 911 call, Carrillo reportedly told police that the two young men had just stolen his backpack (with his laptop inside), that they were wearing black sweaters and that one was carrying a gun.
So the "hoodie" angle of the Trayvon Martin tragedy was present as well.
"The actions of 911 caller set the minds of officers," Pasadena Police Chief Philip Sanchez said at today's press conference.
The victim, right, with an Azusa High teammate.
Kendrec McDade via Twitter
Was it up to cops to investigate for themselves, or just take the word of Carrillo? The officer who first shot McDade did so from the driver's seat of his police vehicle, before an officer on foot opened fire as backup.
The officers had been chasing him about three blocks, and later said they saw him reach for his waistband. That's when they riddled McDade with bullets.
L.A. civil rights leaders began to express outrage when -- after two days of exhaustive searching, via helicopters and bloudhounds -- no gun, nor laptop, was discovered at the scene of the police shooting.
Another shocking aspect to Carillo's call, via KPCC:
Police believe that Carrillo knew the two suspects. Carrillo said that he recognized them in part because they patronized the Pasadena business Carrillo works for.
Update: Even the Pasadena Police Department's own reports, as the investigation progressed, showed some inconsistencies -- apparently for the contradictory nature of Carrillo's original 911 story.
At first, detectives thought only one suspect had been armed. A day or so later, the police report indicated that both suspects had been armed.
Carrillo reportedly admitted to lying on the phone, leading to his arrest
"His brazen lie triggered a series of events that caused my client's son to be killed on the street like a dog, and we want justice," says the McDade family lawyer, Caree Harper, in the Pasadena Sun.
The attorney believes that Carrillo "knew that by saying black men robbed me in hoodies, it would trigger an expedited response from the police department, and he got just that."
Update: Many thanks to the Tribune for posting this audio of Carrillo's lethal call to police on Saturday night.
The teens "put a gun in my face," says Carrillo. He says he thinks he knows them.
Carrillo identifies his alleged attackers as "African-American" and says one has a gun. But a few seconds later, he changes his story and says they're both carrying guns. He starts cussing and getting really upset around 3:10 -- the call is bleeped out, so it's hard to hear his exact words. By the end, he has them dressed head-to-toe in black.
UP NEXT: Harper, the attorney for both McDade's family and his 17-year-old friend in jail, questions whether there was a robbery at all -- and why the 911 caller was arrested so long after police found out he lied.
L.A.-area attorney Caree Harper
@AttyCareeHarper via Twitter
Caree Harper, attorney, held her own press conference this afternoon -- right before the police chief announced Carrillo's arrest.
"They knew he lied on March 26," says Harper. "So why did they wait until an hour after my press conference to arrest him?
At her own conference, the attorney revealed that she had determined Carrillo was lying about the two teens being armed. Although the Pasadena Police Department has not responded to LA Weekly's repeated calls for comment, here's their explanation, via press statement:
Pasadena Police Department Detectives conducted extensive reviews of witness statements and reviewed audio and video recordings, which brought forth concerns regarding the victim's assertion that the suspects were armed during the crime.
On Monday, March 26th, detectives re-interviewed Mr. Carrillo who admitted he falsely stated the suspects were armed during the crime to expedite the officers' response. On Tuesday, March 27th, detectives met with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and submitted a case for review against Mr. Carrillo. On Wednesday, March 28th, Pasadena Detectives arrested Mr. Oscar Carrillo, MH 26, and Pasadena resident, for Involuntary Manslaughter related to the Officer Involved Shooting.
Furthermore, Harper says she has reason to believe that no robbery took place at all. (Investigators never found a backpack or a laptop, just like they never found a gun.)
"This man lied about about one thing, so he could lie about another," says Harper. "There's so much reasonable doubt you could spread it with a knife."
The attorney also represents McDade's surviving 17-year-old friend -- the boy that was originally charged with McCade's murder, by a strange twist of California law. The murder charge has since been dropped, but Harper says she thinks police are only retaining the "commercial burglary," "grand theft," and "failure to register as gang member" charges because "they placed him under arrest and need to charge him with something."
However, the Los Angeles Times reports that...
... the chief said video from a security camera shows the two young men were involved in the theft of a backpack from Carrillo's car. [Chief Philip Sanchez] alleged that McDade was a lookout in the theft.
Harper will request that the 17-year-old be released tomorrow, "so he can have closure and go to best friend's funeral."
Carrillo, the 911 caller, is a 26-year-old Latino man who works at a cellular store in the area near the taco truck.
Although Heller isn't crying "racism" just yet, she says that "if the call came out as two white guys, do I think one would be dead and the other charged with murder? It pains me to say it, but no."
She says the caller was apparently "of the opinion that everyone else has a different reaction if you have two black men in hoodies."
The Trayvon Martin murder comes up multiple times throughout our conversation.
"It shouldn't be a crime in this country to get Skittles and iced tea at night -- to get tacos at night -- and be in fear of getting shot," the lawyer says.
"So there was a hoodie or a beanie involved. Is that off-limits clothing?" she asks. "So black men have to freeze at night?"
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.