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Police shooting of college student roils Pasadena

March 28, 2012 |  4:24 pm

Image: Map shows location of Wednesday's shooting in purple, as well as 23 other homicides (in red) since January 2007. Credit: Homicide ReportThe fatal shooting of a college student by a Pasadena police officer on a dark street last weekend has stirred community concerns and prompted the police chief to call for an independent investigation.

The officer shot 19-year-old Kendrec McDade while sitting in the driver’s seat of his police cruiser in a narrow alley in the city’s Northeast district about 11 p.m. on Saturday. Police were chasing two people who they believed were armed and had stolen a laptop computer. But authorities have recovered neither a gun nor a computer from the scene.

In a detailed description of the shooting, Pasadena Lt. Phlunte Riddle said the officer used the cruiser to block McDade’s path.

The officer, who was sitting on the driver’s side, rolled down his window and shot McDade after the teenager allegedly made a motion at his waistband, Riddle said.

“It was close range … less than 10 feet,” she added. A second officer who was chasing McDade on foot, also opened fire, “fearing for other officer's safety,” Riddle said.

McDade, a football standout at Azusa High School who attended Citrus College, died of his injuries at Huntington Hospital. Police spent the next two days looking extensively for a gun or the stolen laptop computer but said they found neither.

Still, Riddle said, officials believe McDade and a juvenile were responsible for the theft.

The case has generated interest from the American Civil Liberties Union as well the NAACP, which have criticized the Police Department for not releasing more information about the case.

Seeking to address those and other community concerns, the Pasadena police chief asked the Sheriff’s Department’s Office of Independent Review to investigate the shooting. The chief also met behind closed doors with McDade family and community activists Tuesday.

McDade’s mother, Anya Slaughter, and her attorney Caree Harper questioned the events surrounding the shooting.

“I really want to know what precipitated an officer to shoot this young man [while] seated in a patrol car, Harper said. “It shouldn't be open season on young black men getting killed who are unarmed.”

Slaughter said she wants to make sure justice is served for her son.

Police officials, however, have declined to release the officers’ names, saying that the chief had yet to make that decision. The department has also put a security hold on McDade’s autopsy report.

“There is a great number of questions unanswered here.…The bottom line is this young man was not armed when he was shot dead. The underlying question is they said he is an armed robbery suspect but they never recovered a gun,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, of L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable. “He is not a gang-banger or a drug dealer.”

The shooting occurred in a neighborhood where there have been tensions between African American residents and police. McDade was African American, and police have not revealed the race of the officers.

Councilman Chris Holden , whose district encompasses the shooting scene and is the city’s longest serving African American council member, said “that investigation should be as transparent an investigation as possible.”


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Image: Map shows location of Wednesday's shooting in purple, as well as 23 other homicides (in red) since January 2007. Credit: Homicide Report