[Updated] Pasadena Police Chief John Perez said Thursday that the police shooting of Northwest Pasadena resident Anthony McClain was justified, in his opinion.
Perez asserted that McClain was armed at the time of the shooting following a traffic stop, and that the police have recovered his weapon.
“The shooting appears to have been justified,” said Perez. “The officer made decisions he had to make, with somebody looking back at him armed with a weapon.”
Perez also added, “Obviously I need a lot more information to finalize my conclusion with the staff.”
At the same time, McClain family attorney Caree Harper , who viewed edited and narrated video footage of the incident that she was shown by police, said, “The video that I saw stops just before the shot is fired, and showed that the police did not have to shoot at all, in my opinion, and it’s arguable what if anything, might have been on Mr. McClain at the time.”
Harper later asserted that a shiny designer belt buckle worn by McClain may have been mistaken for a weapon.
McClain was shot on Saturday after being pulled over on Raymond Avenue near La Pintoresca Park.
“We do have a gun recovered, we do have a witness who saw [McClain] throw it, but our discussion needs to move from shooting Mr. McClain in the back, unarmed, to moving our discussion to the anger where it should be, (and that is) that we have an incident in which an individual had the gun, running from the police, did look back at them, the officer fired two rounds, and we need to ask ourselves, ‘Is that what needs to happen?’” Perez said.
“We need an independent investigation,” Perez added, and said that, “(the investigation) has to go along with our administrative investigation. It’s got to go along with the criminal investigation, and it also had to go along with the District Attorney’s investigation.”
Perez acknowledged the anger in the community, and continued, “I’m not looking to lessen the anger or emotions of this. I am looking to ensure that it’s on the right facts of the case, and not that he wasn’t armed. We know that he was armed, we have the weapon, and we have the witness, but the question will be, when the two shots were fired with one striking him in the lower right side of the back, as he was looking back, that is the issue for us to engage and to talk about.”
“The issue is going to be the facts of firing two rounds,” said Perez, “as Mr. McClain was running away, holding the handgun…so the discussion has to be about that part of it.”
Harper—who has been retained by some members of McClain’s family, including his grandmother, sister and three daughters—stopped short of announcing any formal legal action, but said that she would consider her next move after viewing a flash drive of raw footage provided to her by the Chief.
Harper added, “We have questions, we have concerns, we want to listen, we want to be patient, but quite frankly, I’m fresh out of patience. I am tired of the Kendrec McDades, I am tired of the Reginald Thomases.”
McDade was shot by Pasadena police in 2012, and Thomas died while in police custody in 2016. Both cases were eventually settled.
Jasmine Abdullah Richards, of Black Lives Matter Pasadena, also said that BLM supporters would be camped out at Pasadena City Hall in support of McClain until Pasadena police release the names of the officers involved in the shooting.