Kendrec McDade: Judge delays decision on whether report will be made public (updated)

File photo: The family of Kendrec McDade and attorney Caree Harper at a rally at Pasadena City Hall.
File photo: The family of Kendrec McDade and attorney Caree Harper at a rally at Pasadena City Hall. Erika Aguilar/KPCC

Update 8:43 a.m.: The judge hearing the Kendrec McDade shooting case delayed his decision on Tuesday, saying he is leaning toward releasing portions of an independent consultant's report.

“I don’t think he’s going to release the whole report,” said Attorney Dale Gronemeier. “I don’t think he’s going to suppress the whole report.”  Gronemeier represents Kendrec McDade's mother, the NAACP Pasadena and other community groups and activists who have requested copies of the independent report. 

Judge James Chalfant didn’t commit to a timeline for when he would rule but Gronemeier hopes for a decision by the end of the week.

Tuesday, Oct. 14: Judge to decide on whether to release report on fatal shooting 

A tug of war between the City of Pasadena, its police union and the community may finally end Tuesday when a judge decides whether to make public an independent report critiquing the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen.

The fight has been over a report done by the Office of Independent Review Group, a consulting firm that reviewed the 2012 police shooting of 19-year-old Kendrec McDade, who was suspected of stealing a backpack. The report also contains policy recommendations for the Pasadena Police Department.

McDade was killed by officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffery Newlen during a police chase while responding to a 911 call about an armed robbery. It later turned out that there were no guns involved in the reported crime.

Members of the community and media outlets have filed public records requests to obtain copies of the independent report since it was handed over to the city in August.

After initially saying they only intended to release the report’s recommendations, Pasadena city officials last month decided to make the report public, with about 20 percent of it redacted.

But the Pasadena Police Officers’ Association sued the city to prevent the release, arguing the report is based in large part on personnel records and crime reports that are confidential under state law. An attorney representing the PPOA also said release of the report would violate the privacy rights of the two officers who shot McDade.

“The more we talk about the content of the report to support our position, the more we release the report,” said PPOA attorney Richard Shinee during the last court hearing.

The Pasadena police chief, the city manager and Shinee have seen the report; no one on the city council has.

McDade’s mother, Anya Slaughter, has attended each of the court hearings on the release of the report, wearing a purple ribbon with a picture of her son.

“I still haven’t got complete closure,” she said after last month’s court hearing.

Slaughter said she wants access to the report because she doesn’t feel the Pasadena Police Department has been forthcoming about what happened the night her son died. There isn’t any police dash camera video of the shooting.

Occasionally, Slaughter will leave the courtroom during arguments.

“It’s very emotional for me,” she said. “It’s something that I know that I have to do, but it’s a struggle trying to do it.”

The Long Beach Police Officers Association sued the city of Long Beach to block it from releasing the names of officers involved in past shootings in response to a public records request filed by the Los Angeles Times newspaper in 2010. The union argued the names were part of confidential police personnel records and could put officers in danger if released.

But earlier this year, the state Supreme Court ruled that the legislature never intended to make names of police officers confidential and said police must release such names unless there is a specific threat against an officer.

In Pasadena, the judge will have to decide if the independent report should be made public and what, if any, information can be kept confidential.

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