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Pasadena police are ‘lawless gang,’ shooting victim’s family alleges

May 10, 2012 |  9:10 am

Kendrec McDade memorial

The family of Kendrec McDade, the unarmed 19-year-old fatally shot by Pasadena Police, accused officers of being "Keystone cops" and a "lawless gang" who believed they could get away with anything, according to court papers filed this week.

The allegations were contained in amendments to a lawsuit filed by the family against the Pasadena Police Department.

The lawsuit, originally filed April 3, seeks compensation for the wrongful death of McDade. It also claims civil rights violations by several Pasadena police officers.

McDade was fatally shot March 24 by Pasadena police officers responding to a robbery call. Although a 911 caller had reported being robbed by a man with a gun, police later discovered  McDade was unarmed.

In Tuesday's amended pleading, attorney Caree Harper offers new details of the shooting, stating the patrol car being driven by Officer Jeff Newlen or Mathew Griffin was going backward with the driver's side door open "at a rapid rate of speed" at the time officers encountered McDade, the Pasadena Sun reported. The court papers say a couple walking in the area saw the car moving backward and the husband said to his wife, "I think they are going to shoot that guy."

The document does not indicate that the couple witnessed the shooting.

The complaint adds a new name, Pasadena Police Lt. Phlunte Riddle, to the list of defendants. The lawsuit asserts Riddle has made false statements in explaining the case to the public and the media.

In an interview Tuesday, Riddle said, "I have not had an opportunity to review that amended complaint, but I at no time would misrepresent any information. My statements have been accurate based on the information that I have obtained from the investigation."

Riddle declined to comment on the assertion the patrol car was moving backward at a rapid pace, saying, "That's part of the investigation that will be revealed at its conclusion."

Riddle said officers canvassed the area in an effort to find witnesses to the shooting but did not identify eyewitnesses.

"I have not personally been updated on any additional witnesses, but that doesn't mean they are not out there or that they don't exist," he said.

Several probes of the shooting are ongoing, from the Pasadena police investigation to a review by the FBI. Riddle has said it will take several months for the investigation to wrap up.


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-- Bill Kisliuk, Times Community News

Photo: A memorial for Kendrec McDade, who was shot and killed by Pasadena police. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times