Crime & Justice

Police defend officer who shot unarmed black teen in Pasadena after 911 call saying he had a gun

Kendrec McDade
Kendrec McDade
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Pasadena Police arrested a 911 caller Wednesday, saying that the caller's false report that he was a victim of armed robbery is partly to blame for an officer shooting and killing an unarmed teenager. The caller could be charged with manslaughter.

"If you have time to verify [that a suspect has a gun], then verify," says Phlunte Riddle, a spokesperson for the Pasadena Police. But Riddle says when police are in hot pursuit, with information that the suspect is armed, it’s a different story. And the 911 caller said he’d been robbed by two armed men.

From inside his patrol car, a Pasadena police officer shot 19-year-old Kendrec McDade as the vehicle cut McDade off. Police say McDade made a motion to his waistband and approached the cruiser.

“The officers have to make a split-second decision, shoot or don’t shoot," says Riddle. "And the officers felt their lives were in imminent danger. ... There was no time.”

Riddle says shooting from a patrol vehicle is not a procedure taught in officer training. but she also says it’s happened before.

Meanwhile, the attorney for McDade's family, Caree Harper, says the man who made the report should face some type of felony charge even if he didn’t physically pull the trigger.

"That does not alleviate those officers from their duty to know when to shoot and know when not to shoot," Harper was quick to add. "They must independently justify their shooting. They can’t just say, ‘Oh, someone called us and said hey, there was two guys, two black guys with a gun. Come shoot them,' and then have the police cleared. I don’t think so!"

Harper says she’ll wait until the Pasadena Police Department finishes its investigation before she decides whether to file a federal lawsuit against the city.