LOS ANGELES (AP) — The district attorney's office concluded Monday that Pasadena police officers responding to a robbery report acted lawfully when they shot to death a suspect who turned out to be unarmed.
The officers shot Kendrec McDade, 19, during a nighttime encounter on March 24 after a man reported two men robbed him of a backpack at gunpoint.
A Dec. 17 letter from the district attorney's Justice System Integrity Division to Pasadena police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez said an investigation concluded the officers "acted in lawful self-defense and in defense of others."
Attorney Caree Harper, who represents the McDade family, said she will review the eight-page report but called its reliance on "contorted stories" from Pasadena police officers "insulting."
The letter said Oscar Carrillo, the man who reported being robbed, mentioned a gun eight times during a 911 call, and that dispatch advised Officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen that both suspects were armed.
Carrillo later acknowledged he lied about guns in hopes of getting a faster police response, the letter said.
Carrillo was arrested for investigation of involuntary manslaughter, but prosecutors declined to charge him. His lawyer claimed police were scapegoating Carrillo.
Harper said McDade's father, Tracy McDade, was disappointed and dismayed at the decision against prosecuting Carrillo.
With no charges filed against Carrillo, Tracy McDade "is not completely surprised" that prosecutors didn't pursue charges against police officers, Harper said.
McDade's family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and a claim against the city of Pasadena and five officers.
An analysis included in the letter described the officers pursuing the fleeing McDade by car and on foot, his left arm swinging back and forth in a running motion but his right hand clutching his waistband.
McDade was running on a sidewalk when he suddenly turned into the street and headed directly at Griffin, who was in his patrol car and opened fire because he believed McDade was about to shoot him while confined in the vehicle, the letter said.
Newlen, who was on foot at that point, also opened fire, believing McDade was firing at Griffin, the letter said.
In May, a 17-year-old youth who had been with McDade appeared in juvenile court and acknowledged his role in the theft that led to the shooting.
The minor made the admission — the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty plea — to two felony counts of burglary, one count of grand theft and a misdemeanor count of failing to register as a gang member. He wasn't identified because of his age.
A court commissioner sentenced him to six months at a community camp program.