Crime & Justice

Police didn't turn on their lights or sirens before shooting unarmed black teen Kendrec McDade

L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable founder Earl Ofari Hutchinson mets with the Pasadena police chief to discuss the officer shooting of Kendrec McDade.
L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable founder Earl Ofari Hutchinson mets with the Pasadena police chief to discuss the officer shooting of Kendrec McDade.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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The two Pasadena police officers who shot and killed 19-year-old Kendrec McDade Saturday night did not have their patrol car lights or sirens on when they approached the unarmed teenager.

Police were responding to an armed robbery call that turned out to be false. The 911 caller, 26-year-old Oscar Felipe Carrillo, admitted to police that he lied about two suspects having a gun. He has been arrested and is awaiting potential charges of involuntary manslaughter.

Pasadena police spokesperson Phlanté Riddle said the department does not allow officers to turn on patrol car lights or sirens if the emergency has no imminent danger. Carrillo told the dispatcher two African-American men pointed a gun at him and stole his backpack.

“The victim at that time said that the suspects were running away from him,” said Riddle. “That removed the immediate threat to his life.”

Riddle said officers could have requested permission to use lights and sirens, but they never did — therefore, no police dash-cam video is available. Riddle said that even though it was nighttime, the black-and-white police car is still very obvious without lights or sirens.

According to police, the other teen, 17, did not resist or run from police when an officer called out to him. The juvenile was hiding behind a large disposable container and told police he was a bystander who heard gunshots and tried to hide to protect himself.

The Pasadena Police Department confirmed Friday the names of the two officers, Jeffery Newlen and Mathew Griffin, who were involved in the shooting. The attorney representing the family of Kendrec McDade released the officers' names earlier. Newlen has no prior officer-involved shootings, according to police, but Griffin was involved in a 2007 shooting of a Rottweiler that was loose and had attacked a person and his dog.

Friday, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, host of the L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable, met with Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez to discuss the shooting. Hutchinson said he had questions about police use-of-force and why young black men seem to be the targets of violence.

Hutchinson said McDade could have just been pulling up his pants. He suggested the department re-train and be familiar with how young people dress today.

Police say McDade reached for his wasitband as he approached police and was shot.

“Get up with the times,” Hutchinson said. “This is what young men wear today and young women wear today. We don’t want to see another Kendrec McDade."

The Pasadena police chief will host a community discussion about the shooting Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at the Revelation Missionary Baptist Church.