Pasadena police officers were justified when they fatally shot a man who they said reached into his waistband during a report of an armed robbery that turned out to be false, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said on Monday.
After an eight-month investigation, the LA County DA’s Office completed its investigation into the shooting of Kendrec McDade, 19, who was killed on March 24 as police were responding to a call of a robbery at a taco truck in Pasadena.
McDade was shot while running away from a man claiming McDade and a juvenile friend tried to rob him.
The case became the center of controversy because the 911 caller admitted to lying about being robbed by two males with guns so he could get a quicker police response.
McDade’s death pitted the black community in Pasadena against the police department and prompted a federal civil rights lawsuit by the McDade family alleging police bias against blacks in the city.
The DA’s review concluded that the “officers acted in lawful self-defense and in defense of others.”
Dale Galipo, the McDade family attorney, said he was disappointed but not surprised. In his lawsuit, he alleges the McDade case is one in a long line of “waistband shootings,” an LA area “epidemic,” in which police shoot people and later claim the person they shot was reaching into his waistband.
“You have an unarmed kid who’s shot,” Galipo said. “The bottom line is police never saw a gun in his hand. They never saw something that appeared to be a gun. They claimed he was reaching into his waistband, which is the oldest excuse in the book.
“On the face of it, clearly it’s an unjustified shooting.”
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez said the shooting was tragic and that he ordered parallel independent investigations by the FBI and a civilian watchdog agency called the Office of Independent Review.
“These incidents bear a significant emotional impact on the community and the police department,” he said in a statement.