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Family of Kendrec McDade raises questions about autopsy report

Attorney Caree Harper points to diagrams in the autopsy report of Kendrec McDade, 19, who was shot and killed by Pasadena police. His parents sit to the left and right of Harper.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC
Attorney Caree Harper points to diagrams in the autopsy report of Kendrec McDade, 19, who was shot and killed by Pasadena police. His parents sit to the left and right of Harper.

The attorney representing Kendrec McDade’s family says the autopsy report released Friday raises questions about whether police shot the unarmed black teen as he was down. Attorney Caree Harper says the report is inconsistent with statements made by the Pasadena Police Department.

“We wanted to get our version out because the police department didn’t hesitate in getting their version out,” Harper said at a Saturday press conference.

McDade, 19, was shot by Pasadena police on March 24 after police received a false 911 call about an armed robbery. Police say when they approached McDade, he reached for his waistband. The officers believed he was reaching for a gun and they opened fire. It was later learned McDade was not armed. The minor who was with McDade that night has admitted to several charges in juvenile court. The teen allegedly stole a backpack from a car.

McDade's family is suing the police department and the City of Pasadena for wrongful death and civil rights violations. The FBI, the county District Attorney’s office, and the Office of Independent Review are investigating the police shooting.

Pasadena police released a statement Thursday saying McDade sustained seven gunshot wounds, three of which struck arteries and were possibly fatal, and that the autopsy showed there were no wounds to the back.

With McDade's family at her side, Harper pointed to diagrams from the report that show four gunshots entered McDade’s body from his backside hip and the back of his arms. One diagram shows a bullet to McDade’s hip entered his left backside, traveled downward and exited to the right.

“How do you shoot from a position where you feel threatened and have the trajectory of the bullet at a downward angle?” Harper asked. She said the officers who shot McDade, Jeffery Newlan and Mathew Griffin, "are not eight feet tall." The two officers are back on duty but not in the field.

The autopsy report from the L.A. County Coroner’s office shows McDade was shot four times at pointblank range by the officer who was in the driver's seat of the police car. His partner, who was chasing McDade on foot, also fired four times after hearing the first gunshots. McDade was handcuffed and paramedics were called.

Pasadena police spokesperson Lt. Phlunte Riddle on Friday said, according to department procedures, officers can handcuff a person who has been shot "until an individual is completely deemed safe.” She would not comment as to when the handcuffs were removed from McDade.

According to the autopsy report, McDade had alcohol and marijuana in his system. The report also says paramedics described McDade as “combative” when they arrived at the scene and they were forced to restrain him.

“The only thing Mr. McDade was being combative about was that he was fighting for his life,” Harper said.

As tears rolled down her face, McDade’s 9-year old sister, Alana Brady, said she missed her brother.

“It hurts to see my brother gone because he was always there for me,” she said. “When I didn’t feel good, he was there for me.”

Harper said another attorney, Dale Galipo, has joined the case. She said they are investigating potential legal action, separate from the civil rights lawsuit that has been filed, to try and change the policies and practices at the Pasadena Police Department.