The Pasadena Police Officers Association (“PPOA”) today filed a petition with the California Court of Appeal seeking to block Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant’s November 13 judgment ordering the release of a redacted version of the Office of Independent Review Group (“OIR”) Report on the Pasadena Police Department’s shooting of the unarmed young African-American youth Kendrec McDade. On November 13 Judge Chalfant granted the PPOA request for a 20 day stay on the City’s release of the Report; that stay expires next Wednesday. The PPOA petition now requests that the Court of Appeal further delay releasing the report.
Pasadena Police Department officer Matthew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen shot and killed Kendrec McDade in 2012 after a false report that two youths with guns had robbed a victim; the officers chased McDade for several blocks, before shooting him, claiming they believed that he had a gun. However, McDade was unarmed. The police officers appear to have violated a number of policies in gunning down McDade, including shooting at him while driving, shooting at him from with the police car, failing to turn on any recording equipment, sirens, or lights, shooting into a dark background that could have contained unseen people, and failing to identify themselves as police officers. Nonetheless, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez determined that the shooting was within policy.
The City retained the OIR Group to review the police department’s handling of the shooting and its investigations; at the time the OIR Group was hired, Chief Sanchez indicated he wanted the 01K Report publicly released. Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck sparked a public outcry in July when he publicly stated that the City would release only the recommendations in the OIR Report. Numerous Pasadena community members urged the City Council to release the full 01K Report. Community members, community organizations, and newspapers then filed public records act requests for the OIR Report. At the City’s urging, the PPOA filed suit in early September to prevent the City from releasing any part of the OIR Report; the City used the PPOA lawsuit to avoid responding to the public records act requests. McDade’s mother, Anya Slaughter, the Pasadena NAACP, ACT, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, and ACLU Board member Kris Ockershauser intervened in the lawsuit, got the
PPOA’s lawsuit dismissed as premature because the City had not indicated it was
going to release the document; Judge Chalfant ordered the City to “stop playing games” and instead promptly indicate whether or not it would release the Report. The Los Angeles Times at the same time intervened to also seek release of the OIR Report. The City then submitted under seal a copy of the Report that redacted 14 pages of the 70-page report. On November 4, Judge Chalfant overruled most of the PPOA’s objections to release of the OIR Report, ordered the City to unredact two of its proposed redactions, and ordered the City to redact four short portions that it had not redacted. Those rulings resulted in the November 13 judgment ordering release of the redacted version of the OIR Report.
Elbie J. Hickambottom, General Counsel for the NAACP and one of the attorney for the interveners expressed dismay ;today that the PPOA continues to block public disclosure of the OIR Report. “The PPOA’s position is so extreme that it would essentially block any public scrutiny of its members. Its intransigent protection of the few bad apples in the department does a disservice to the great majority of Pasadena Police Officers who are conscientiously doing their jobs. Unfortunately, the City administration’s backtracked on its initial commitment to open government and it unconscionably induced the PPOA to file its premature lawsuit. The City Administration’s conduct is part and parcel of its hostility to effective civilian review of the Police Department that has encouraged the PPOA to aggressively fight open government. We’re confident that the courts will ultimately reject their delaying tactics and let the public see at least most of the Report.”