Pasadena Sees First Police Shooting Under New Chief, Evolving Use of Force Procedures

Published : Tuesday, January 15, 2019 | 5:42 AM

Pasadena police officers shown training during an "active shooter" exercise in 2013

A Pasadena police officer fired a weapon in the line of duty Friday for the first time since a new chief took command of the department.

No one was hurt in the confrontation in which at least one officer shot at, but did not hit, an armed suspect during a foot chase just after 4:30 p.m. in the 1900 block of North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena Police Department officials said.

The officer-involved shooting took place as the department is in the midst of reviewing its policies and procedures related to police use of force under the direction of Chief John Perez. Perez had served as the department’s interim chief since April and was formally named the permanent police chief last month.

And while that review is yet to be completed, some of its results are already visible in the manner in which the department is dealing with Friday’s shooting, Perez said.

Pasadena Chief of Police John Perez

For one, the department now routinely conducts reviews of use of force incidents within a month of occurrence, the chief explained.

“We implemented our own process in early 2018 that within 30 days of every use of force, the officer or the jailer or the field personnel is in a room with at least two experts to review the body-worn camera, the techniques they used and the decision making that they went through for diffusing a situation and deescalating throughout the skill set,” he said.

“At the end of (last) year we saw a 35 percent reduction in use of force and also reduction of 50 percent use of punches and kicks,” according to Perez. “I can’t tell you one caused the other, but surely it was helpful to the officers [in] improving their decision making and the type of decisions that they’re making out in the field in a critical moment.”

Due to another change in department policy made last year, the officers’ body-worn video from the incident will be released within 45 days, according to the chief. A new California law taking effect this summer requires that timeframe, but Pasadena police have begun the practice early.

“We have a policy in place that is far ahead of the state law that is coming out in July, and so after a critical incident or a serious injury, we have a process to release our body worn camera video within a 45-day period,” he said.

Last Friday’s shooting unfolded as officers approached Brandon Green, 29, of Pasadena due to an outstanding warrant from a drug-related case, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.

Green ran from officers and pulled out a handgun, at which point an officer opened fire, the lieutenant said. Green fell to the ground although he wasn’t injured, and was then taken into custody without further incident.

“A firearm was recovered at the scene,” Clawson said.

Police booked Green on suspicion of assault on a police officer, as well as the existing warrant, officials said.

Perez said he had not yet reviewed all the information regarding the specifics of the shooting.

“But clearly, [the officer] must have felt there was a threat,” he said. “I’ve watched the body-worn camera video and there was a concern for safety.”

While the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the incident from the standpoint of the criminal case against the suspect, police shootings in which no one is struck do not automatically trigger an officer-involved shooting investigation by D.A.’s Office.

The Pasadena Police Department is conducting an internal review into the shooting, like all use of force incidents, according to Perez. Such reviews are expected to be completed within a year, barring delays caused by another official investigation.

The goal is to learn from each and every encounter that results in violence.

“That way we have a way to assess and analyze the use of our policies, our equipment, our supervision at the scene and the procedures that were in place for the organization,” the chief said.

“We review the incident with command staff and we come to conclusions on what is in policy what might be out of policy, what are training issues, what are other outside issues,” he added. Those conclusions could lead to changes in training or re-evaluation of policies.

The department also uses the services of the Police Foundation consulting firm to provide guidance regarding policies and critical incidents, Perez added.

Another example of the department’s evolving response to use of force incidents could be seen after the incident, Perez said.

“One of the things we conducted after the shooting on Saturday afternoon was a post-incident management process of us knocking on doors in the neighborhood to see how this has impacted the neighborhood,” the chief said. “Also, providing information to neighbors who didn’t have information or wanted more… so we really want to make sure that’s part of our of our policies is also outreach to impact the community.”

“At the end of the day, it is about the safety of our neighborhoods and we have to make sure we’re doing them everything correctly for them,” Perez said.

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