Pasadena Police Chief Philip Sanchez told community members Saturday he's determined to get the facts straight about what led officers to shoot and kill a 19-year-old college student they believed to be a robbery suspect.
The chief answered written questions during a community meeting at New Revelation Missionary Baptist Church on the March 24 death of Kendrec McDade.
Sanchez said he wanted to "start the healing process" and said that he had asked the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Office of Independent Review to investigate the case, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/HbXfTR). He asked for prayers both for the McDade family and for the officers who shot him.
Because the investigation is ongoing, Sanchez could not answer a question about how many times McDade had been shot, the Times reported. He said the police car's camera did not record the event because the officers did not activate the vehicle's lights and sirens, which would have turned on the camera.
A 911 caller was arrested earlier this week after police say his false armed robbery report put officers on alert and led them to believe McDade was a suspect and armed. Investigators said a deadly chain of events was set into motion after officers responded to the call claiming a laptop had been stolen by two armed men.
Caller Oscar Carrillo repeatedly told officers that two suspects were armed with guns/">handguns on Orange Grove Boulevard at Raymond Avenue.
McDade ran from responding officers until an officer used the police cruiser to block McDade's path in an alley and rolled down his window, police said.
McDade allegedly made a motion at his waistband and the officer in the cruiser opened fire. A second officer who was chasing McDade on foot also opened fire.
Responding to the audience's questions Saturday, Sanchez said firing from a car was a "tactic" available to police, though an unusual one. He said there was not always time to yell "freeze," and that non-lethal weapons like beanbags were typically employed for planned events, not by police who must make instant decisions, the Times reported.
Asked whether his officers had to shoot to kill McDade, he replied: "I can't say. I can't say because I wasn't there."
Martin A. Gordon, a leader of the Pasadena Community Coalition, a community group, said the facts of the shooting remained murky.
"What makes it hard to swallow is this meeting brought up more questions than answers," Gordon told the newspaper. "There's just no way I can fathom the police not telling him `Stop, halt, you're under arrest'" before shooting.
Police said Carrillo admitted to fabricating the detail about the guns and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Police said McDade had been a lookout as Carrillo's backpack was stolen from his car.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com