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2 Pasadena police officers are under internal investigation for allegedly intimidating suspects, witnesses

Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez, April 6, 2012.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez says he’s investigating two officers on accusations that they intimidated suspects and witnesses

Pasadena’s police chief said he’s investigating two officers on accusations that they intimidated suspects and witnesses. One of those officers is a detective investigating the officer-involved shooting of Kendrec McDade.

Pasadena police shot and killed 19-year-old McDade in March after they said he reached for his waistband. Police say they thought he had a gun because of a false emergency call, but McDade was not armed. Keith Gomez, a corporal with the Pasadena department, is looking into the incident.

Last week the Pasadena chapter of the NAACP filed a complaint with the police department alleging that Gomez intimidated a suspect and witnesses and manufactured evidence in a 2006 murder case he investigated.

“Sometimes officers may do things that are inappropriate," said Joe Brown, the chapter president, "and there appears to be sometimes patterns that certain officers are using that are really going over the line.”

Kendrec McDade’s family has named Gomez in a civil rights lawsuit against the city and the police department. It alleges that Gomez has been directly responsible for multiple killings of young black men in Pasadena.

Lieutenant Phlunte Riddle, a police department spokeswoman, said Gomez will continue to probe the Kendrec McDade case until the police chief believes he should be removed during or after the internal investigation.

"We are investigating this complaint," said Riddle. "It’s a complaint. If we took every officer off of their assignment when a complaint comes in, there would be no due process.”

In response to a separate complaint, Pasadena police are investigating Officer Kevin Okamoto for some of the same misconduct allegations. A defense attorney in the 2006 murder case Corporal Keith Gomez investigated filed that complaint.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is also following up on the allegations.