McDade family lawyer 'disappointed' in no charges for police
A lawyer representing the mother of an unarmed teen fatally shot by Pasadena police said he was disappointed that the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office found the officers “acted in lawful self-defense and defense of others.”
Kendrec McDade, 19, was killed by two officers who were responding to reports of an armed robbery March 24. Officers Mathew Griffin and Jeff Newlen chased McDade into a dark street in Northwest Pasadena and shot him when his hand was at his waistband, believing he was armed, police said.
"I'm disappointed, but not surprised," said Dale Galipo, who is representing McDade's mother Anya Slaughter in a federal civil-rights lawsuit filed against the city and officers. "The only time they prosecute is when they have no choice due to public and political pressure and when it's caught on video."
Prosecutors, Galipo said, "have bias in favor of police and are very reluctant to prosecute police officers. I think the district attorney's office should stick to saying we decided not to criminally prosecute but not go on to say the shooting was justified."
He said the shooting is part of a law enforcement pattern of “waistband shootings” in which unarmed suspects are shot by police who later say they were reaching for their waistband.
An autopsy revealed McDade was shot eight times: three fatal wounds and five other non-lethal injuries.
One officer told investigators he feared for his life.
"He left the sidewalk and he's running at me. This -- this scares the crap out of me. I don't know why he's running at me. He's still clutching his waistband,” Griffin told the district attorney’s office. “I think he's got a gun. I'm stuck in the car. I got nowhere to go."
In a detailed account, prosecutors revealed that after Griffin shot and wounded McDade, the second officer -- believing McDade had opened fire -- shot him after he was probably already wounded.Fearing for his life, Griffin said he fired four times through the open driver's side window. McDade was two or three feet away. Griffin said he then ducked down to his right to avoid being hit by shots he expected from McDade. He heard two shots and believed McDade had fired at him.
Newlen told investigators he heard the gunshots and believed McDade "was firing at Griffin." Newlen fired four or five shots at McDade, who fell to the ground after being hit.
Galipo said he believes both officers were not justified in shooting McDade.
"The initial shooting was unjustified. You don't see a gun, you don't see anything that looks like a gun and the subsequent shooting was unjustified," he said.
-- Adolfo Flores and Richard Winton
Photo: A photo of Kendrec McDade is displayed on a message board on display at his funeral at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Altadena on April 7. Credit: Christina House / For The Times