PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — Pasadena Police were “within department policy” when they fatally shot an unarmed backpack theft suspect, according to an internal review.
Kendrec Lavelle McDade, 19, was fatally shot by two officers March 24, 2012 when they believed the teen was reaching for a weapon.
The DA’s Office had cleared the officers in a report last December. That report concluded officers acted in lawful “self-defense and defense of others.”
Two additional reviews, including one by the FBI, are also scheduled.
McDade’s family said police used excessive force against the teen who they said was merely horsing around.
At the time of the shooting, officers believed McDade had a weapon, because Oscar Carrillo, who reported the backpack theft via 911, told the dispatcher the suspect robbed him at gunpoint.
Carrillo later admitted that he never saw a gun, but lied to the 911 operator because he believed police would only respond if a deadly weapon was involved. He allegedly mentioned a gun eight times in a five-minute call.
Officers Jeffrey Newlen and Matthew Griffin responded to the 911 call. The officers spotted McDade, who matched the armed suspect’s description.
“He left the sidewalk and he’s running at me,” Griffin said, according to investigators. “This … this scares the crap out of me. I don’t know why he’s running at me. He’s still clutching his waistband. I think he’s got a gun. I’m stuck in the car. I got nowhere to go.”
Griffin said he fired four times through the driver’s side window as McDade moved down the side of the car.
Newlen, standing 10 to 15 feet behind McDade, heard shots and thought the suspect was firing at him. Newlen said he fired his gun four to five times until McDade fell to the ground.
When McDade was searched, an officer found a cellphone in his front pocket, but no weapon. He was taken by ambulance to Huntington Memorial Hospital and into surgery, but died of his wounds just after midnight.
McDade’s father and others have filed a suit against Pasadena police, alleging that Newlen and Griffin caused the death “without lawful cause or justification, and acting under color of law.”