Update: “Oscar Carrillo, 911 Caller in Kendrec McDade Police Shooting, Arrested for Lying to Cops.” (Includes audio of the 911 call that killed McDade.)
Originally posted at 9:45 a.m.
While the nation copes with the sickening slaying of 17-year-old black boy Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watchman, we might have our own civil rights battle to fight right here at home.
Kendrec McDade, a popular 19-year-old football star who had recently graduated from Azusa High, was shot dead by Pasadena cops on Saturday night. The story originally ran like this: “Armed robbery suspect shot and killed by police in Pasadena.” However, the Pasadena Police Department has yet to find evidence that McDade was armed.
And so the Trayvon comparisons set in.
Eric Hutchinson, local radio host and president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, thinks this could be a deadly case of police racism. (Hutchinson was heavily involved in another Pasadena officer-involved shooting in 2009 — that of young black man Leroy Barnes, whose family has since filed a “wrongful death” lawsuit.)
Along with seven other L.A. civil rights leaders, Hutchinson is demanding that Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez attend an “emergency meeting” to “walk through the narrative” of exactly why and how McDade was gunned down.
The two officers who riddled McDade with bullets on Saturday night have yet to be named, despite a new state law saying they must be. (We've contacted the department for that information.)
All accounts of the young student athlete make him out to be a good, hardworking kid.
“I never would've thought this would've happened to him,” his coach, Joe Scherf, tells the Pasadena Sun. “He was a good kid who was never in trouble, never got suspended from school or anything like that.”
Also: “I just never thought he would have a gun.”
That's one of the most concerning aspects of this shooting, says Hutchinson. The Pasadena PD — with help from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department — has been searching high and low with helicopters and bloodhounds for any trace of McDade's alleged weapon.
To no avail.
“You claim there's an armed robbery, but there's no gun,” says Hutchinson. “Now, I don't know many people who can commit armed robberies with no gun.”
The whole concept of McDade being armed in the first place was based on a 911 call from a man who claimed McDade and his 17-year-old friend had just tried to rob his car. The man said he had seen one of them flash a gun. From the Sun:
Police received a call at 11:04 p.m. from a man who said he was driving in pursuit of two men who had taken items from his car as he visited a taco truck. The two had asked him to buy food and he had refused, [Lieutenant Phlunte Riddle] said. When he return to his parked car he saw the two men inside and confronted them. One of the men flashed a silver or chrome gun and the man backed off, Riddle said.
During a subsequent foot chase with McDade, the cops claimed he reached toward his waistband.
But Hutchinson says the story reeks of racism. If a white kid's hands had wandered toward his waistband, would police have used deadly force?
“There are too many holes in the story,” Hutchinson says. “They just have some explaining to do.”
To add insult to injury, McDade's 17-year-old accomplice has been arrested for his friend's murder. That's because California law stipulates that if you commit certain types of felonies — including armed robberies — you're ultimately responsible for any death that occurs as a result.
McDade's killing likewise dredges up painful memories of last year's LAPD shooting of unarmed black football star Reggie Doucet Jr.
“It always fits the same pattern,” says Hutchinson.
UP NEXT: A secret meeting on the McDade shooting, and the full Pasadena PD report on why officers did what they did. Still no gun.
Strangely, the San Gabriel Valley-Tribune reports that top brass at the Pasadena Police Department hosted a “secret conference” today with local church leaders and members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“Members of the public at large and all but one member of the press were prevented from attending,” writes reporter Brian Charles.
Meanwhile, a gun has yet to be recovered. We've called police spokeswoman Phlunte Riddle a couple times today for updates — and for the names of the officers who fired on McDade — but our calls have not been returned.
She did, however, send us a more detailed police report on why cops thought McDade was carrying a gun:
On March 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm, the Pasadena Police Department was contacted by the victim of an armed robbery. The victim informed the officers that he was in the vicinity of Summit Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard when he was approached by two suspects who pointed a firearm at his face. The victim said both suspects were armed and fled the location. The victim immediately contacted the Pasadena Police Department and provided the above information. The victim informed the Department that he was following the two male suspects and provided their direction of travel. Officers were immediately dispatched to assist the victim and arrest the suspects.
Two uniformed officers responded to the area, observed the victim and the suspect McDade running near Fair Oaks Avenue and Orange Grove Blvd. The officers pursued him north on Sunset Avenue from Orange Grove Blvd and during their attempt to detain McDade, an Officer Involved Shooting occurred. McDade's identity was initially unknown. He was transported to local area hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.
The report says that, along with 911 tapes and witness accounts, detectives have reviewed “a video recording that captured events related to this incident.” The report doesn't, however, specify whether the video supports the robbery victim's story.
The incident will now be “independently” reviewed by an officer-involved-shooting team at the L.A. County District Attorney's Office.
ACLU attorneys often note, during investigations like these, that the D.A.'s office is possibly the wrong entity to scrutinize the actions of a police department, seeing as the two have to collaborate so often on other cases.