The city of Pasadena must decide within the next 10 days whether it will make public an independent report that evaluates the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager, a Los Angeles judge ordered on Tuesday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant lifted a temporary restraining order Tuesday against the city that sealed the report and ordered officials to make a decision.
The report, which was written by a private consulting firm, assesses how the Pasadena Police Department investigated and responded to the officer-involved shooting of 19-year old Kendrec McDade in March 2012. The report also makes recommendations for the police department.
Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck released a statement on Tuesday saying the city will respond to the public records requests in a timely manner now that the court has lifted the temporary restraining order.
“I want to reaffirm that the City remains committed to an open government, but must also balance that goal with the privacy rights of our police officers as mandated by the state law commonly referred to as the Police Officers Bill of Rights,” he said in a written email statement.
The Pasadena Police Officers Association asked the court earlier this month to seal the report. It argued that releasing it would violate the privacy rights of the two officers who shot McDade, who was unarmed.
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.
Pasadena city officials originally said last month that they would make parts of the report public during a city public safety committee meeting on Sept. 15. At the same time, a handful of journalists and others requested copies of the report under the California Public Records Act. The city was required to respond to the requests by Sept. 4.
But in an Aug. 21 letter sent to the attorney representing the police union, City Attorney Michele Bagneris wrote, “if you desire to prevent release of the report by the city in response to the records request, you need to take appropriate court action on behalf of your client … prior to the time that we must respond to the requests.”
Bagneris said she sent that letter because, as a general rule, the city will notify any employee when a request is made for information from their personnel record. She added it was also in response to an email the police union attorney sent the city regarding the release of the report.
Dale Gronemeir represents a Pasadena resident and activist who requested a copy of the report. He accuses the city of hiding behind the police union.
“The city manager and the city attorney, who are the ones in control at this stage are playing games,” Gronemeir told KPCC. “They’re not being forthright with the public, and they’re trying to duck responsibility and keep the report from coming out. They need to stop that.”
KPCC is awaiting requests for comment from the Pasadena city council members and the attorney representing the police union and will update this story when it gets responses.