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Council Reviews McDade Shooting Report in Public Meeting

Police Chief Sanchez agrees to some of the report's recommendations; Councilmembers Madison, Hampton battle

Published on Tuesday, December 8, 2015 | 6:12 am
 

[UPDATED December 8, 2015 | 7:35 a.m.]  In a joint meeting of the Pasadena City Council and the Public Safety Committee that ran over six hours until nearly midnight Monday night, the full council discussed the recently-released OIR Group report on the 2012 police shooting of Kendrec McDade.

The meeting began with a moment of silence for the victims of the recent shooting attack in San Bernardino, and featured Robert Miller and Michael Gennaco, the authors of the report. The evening was also marked by a testy exchange between Councilmembers Steve Madison and Tyron Hampton, over Hampton’s sharp criticisms of Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez.

Public Safety Committee Chair John Kennedy opened the meeting by saying, “There is no joy in being here tonight,” a sentiment that was echoed by a number of speakers throughout the evening. “There is nothing we can do now. The lies of the telephone caller Oscar Carillo (who reported to police that he was robbed by two armed men, but later recanted his story), set this all into motion.”

“Transparency matters,” Kennedy continued. “The police are not a power unto themselves.”

Kennedy also emphasized that the meeting was “not about criminal conduct by the Pasadena Police Department. The officers involved in the shooting have been cleared by two separate agencies, the L.A. City Attorney and the U.S. Department of Justice.” He also reminded the council and the audience that the department would begin implementing the full use of body cameras and video in 2017.

Councilmember Victor Gordo began by saying he took issue with Kennedy’s opening statement, saying that the “City was always transparent,” which elicited a chorus of boos and hisses from the audience.

City Attorney Michele Bagneris then outlined the basic facts of the shooting case, and reminded the Councilmembers that certain aspects of the report could not be discussed, such as personnel matters and personal information, or conversations held between the officers and/ or their superiors.

OIR Report authors Robert Miller (left) and Michael Gennaco pictured Monday, December 7, 2015, in Pasadensa City Council Chambers prior to the joint Public Safety Committee / City Council special meeting.

OIR report co-author Robert Miller emphasized that the report was not about “second-guessing the officers’ actions that night, or recommending any discipline for the officers.”

Michael Gennaco, the other author of the report, added that the report asked, “What did the department do with regard to this shooting, and how well did they do it?”

The full OIR report, which has been published online but still contains multiple redactions, contained 26 recommendations for the department, of which 19 were approved for implementation by Chief Sanchez.

Gennaro and Miller reported that they had access to investigation materials, the administrative briefing, a scene visit, and training protocols, but never saw an administrative review.

Said Gennaco, “We felt the investigation was sufficiently robust, but the lack of an administrative review made the department’s review “shallow and incomplete.”

The report authors also recommended that there must be an administrative investigation of of all Pasadena Police Department shootings,and statements must be gathered from officers the day of the incident. In the McDade shooting, the officers were separated and sequestered, but not officially interviewed for 36 hours following the shooting. They also recommended that there be no review of evidence by the officers until after their statements are provided to investigators.

Gennaco and Miller also cited the following tactical errors that the officers Matthew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen made on the evening of the shooting:

 • Failure to use their lights and siren

• Exiting the patrol cars without a plan

• The officers’ decision to separate and activate a foot pursuit

• Not broadcasting that they believed that the suspect was armed

• Gennaco and Miller also criticized the officers’ use of the “box-in” technique, which “created numbers officer safety issues, and increased the likelihood of deadly force.

“This is a tragedy to everyone,” said Chief Sanchez, in his remarks. “It’s a tragedy for the family, for the city, for the department, and for me.”

(McDade’s mother, Anya Slaughter, left the meeting weeping, just before Sanchez’ presentation, but later returned. )

Sanchez detailed the events of the evening to the meeting, and took several questions as to events immediately following the shooting, which according to numerous published reports, occurred when McDade, who was not armed, ran in the direction of the police car, stopped in the middle of Sunset Avenue. Officer Griffin, who believed that his life was threatened, shot McDade seven times.

Both Councilmembers Margaret McAustin and Gordo questioned the Chief on the “public safety statement” made by the officers to superiors immediately following the shooting. Sanchez explained that the officers gave more information that was required by law, and called their statement an “unvarnished and unadulterated statement” in response to Gordo’s question.

Sanchez also defended the use of the “box-in” technique, saying that it is currently in many academies as part of regular training, and said that lights and sirens are not always used in responding to felony cases, for various reasons.

Madison called the officers’ decision not to use lights and siren, “heroic and courageous,” a remark to which the audience responded with shouts and boos. ‘That’s gross and sick,” one audience member shouted.

Sanchez emphasized that Pasadena is not a “catch at all costs” department, like some, and that a “code 3 response (lights and siren) is a highly regulated response,” adding that “McDade was pursued cautiously” by officers.

At least an hour was taken up by a discussion of the lack of an administrative review in the case. According to the OIR report, the decision not to conduct a full administrative review was made by Chief Sanchez.

Gordo continued to insist that criminal reviews of the case constituted an “administrative review” of the case, something that the OIR report said never occurred.

Miller disagreed, saying, “This is not a matter of semantics. There is standard policy and a protocol for an administrative review. It was done in the (2009) Leroy Barnes case, but not in this case. A professional administrative review is different from a criminal review, and looks for different things.”

Before returning to Councilmember comments, Committee Chair Kennedy later told the group that should other officer-involved shootings occur, the City would be using the L.A. Sheriff’s Department to conduct its investigations. City manager Michael Beck later clarified the announcement, saying the decision not to use OIR for future investigations is still an option.

Councilmember Tyron Hampton then addressed Chief Sanchez directly, saying, “I think we have a good chief, but I can’t honestly say you made all the right decisions. It’s a tragic event for the family, not for the department, and not for you. For you to say that is insensitive.”

Hampton added, “You have agreed to implement many of the recommendations in the report, but I think that all the recommendations can be done.”

Saying that the department needs an independent auditor, Hampton told Sanchez, “I don’t think you have the community’s best interests at heart.

Later, following public comment, most of which was critical of the department, Madison took issue with Hampton’s statement and said that Hampton should apologize to the Chief for his remarks, calling Hampton’s remarks “shameful.” Hampton, taken aback but holding firm, said he would not do that, and Madison then apologized to the Chief on Hampton’s behalf.

Following remarks from Andy Wilson in which he noted that African-Americans in his upscale district also feared the police, the conversation returned to Hampton.

Looking angrily at Madison, he said, “I will not apologize for my comment, and let me say this, don’t you ever, ever scold me.” Hampton added, “I notice, also, that you always call me by my first name though you refer to other council members as ‘Mr.’ Don’t you ever speak to me by my first name again!”

“You better check yourself,” responded Madison.

“You better check yourself,” said Hampton, his anger rising. “You know nothing about me. Don’t ever apologize for me again, and don’t ever, ever refer to me by my first name again. Ever.”

Council member Kennedy then ended their exchange, and the council moved on to other agenda items.

 

 

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