Pasadena police have agreed in principle to most of the reforms recommended by independent investigators looking into the officer-involved shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in 2012. But the agency has also pushed back on others.
Following the death of 19-year-old Kendrec McDade, the city of Pasadena commissioned an outside agency to investigate the incident and how the police department handled the aftermath.
In a report made public last month, the Office of Independent Review Group made 26 recommendations, calling for more officer training, a more open and transparent investigative process and a review of lethal force policies.
In its response, the Pasadena Police Department agreed to many of the recommendations in principle, but also pushed back on some of the OIR's conclusions. For example, the group criticized the department for allowing the officers involved to review video evidence before being interviewed, but in its response Pasadena PD demurred, writing:
Allowing officers to review video is consistent with contemporary police practices as codified in the Department's Lexipol policy 310.8. However, this is an administrative policy decision, which could be revisited.
The OIR also recommended officers avoid trying to cut off and "box-in" suspects believed to be armed — which the officers had attempted to do while chasing McDade — citing concerns for the safety of officers and the public. Pasadena police disagreed:
The "box-in" tactic remains a viable tactic which may be effective under certain circumstances. When deployed properly, it drastically reduces escape choices for suspect(s); reduces risk and increases officer/public safety. Containment continues to be taught in the basic police academy and Advanced Officer Training classes.
On other points, the Police Department asserts that some of the shortcomings found in the OIR report are actually already addressed: that shootings like McDade's are already reviewed internally (the report said it wasn't), and that the officers involved already receive feedback after incidents (the report concluded they don't).
Advocates for McDade's family were disappointed with the department's reaction to the OIR report.
"The responses are fundamentally dishonest and inadequate," said Dale Gronemeier, attorney for McDade's mother. "It pretends that there’s agreement on some of the major issues, when in fact the chief is not agreeing to changes that need to be made, or not actually acknowledging the problems."
Gronemeier has called for Pasadena officials to establish an independent police auditor, a move the city is studying.
McDade was killed March 24, 2012 after police received a 911 call about an armed robbery. Officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffery Newlen shot McDade after a chaotic foot chase. McDade was unarmed, and the 911 caller later admitted he'd lied to police that the suspects were armed during the robbery. He said he wanted police to respond quicker.
Griffin and Newlen were not disciplined by the department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the officers after a 2012 investigation.
The city of Pasadena has scheduled a public meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m. to go over the responses and allow for public comment.