Californian Trayvon: Cops gun down unarmed black teen

A new case of police shooting an unarmed black teenager is underway in Pasadena, California, sparking anger while controversy over the similar killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida still persists.

While Martin was shot dead by a neighborhood watch captain who claimed he was attacked by the teenager, the California case seems to be even more egregious as police shot dead a teenager after receiving erroneous information from a 911 call.

On March 24, 26-year old Oscar Carillo called the police to report that he had just been robbed at gunpoint. The two perpetrators of the crime were said to have taken a laptop and a backpack from Carillo’s car.

Carillo told the dispatcher that both robbers were armed. Shortly afterwards, two police officers reached the two men. One of them opened fire at Kendrec McDade, a 19-year year-old Citrus College student, who started running away when he saw the police car. McDade was said to have moved his hand towards his waistband, which provoked the police officer to shoot; the other officer then also opened fire. The emergency siren was not turned on during the shooting.

McDade was then taken to the Huntington Memorial Hospital where he died from multiple gunshot wounds.

McDade’s supposed accomplice, a 17-year old teenager, was also detained.

It turned out that both teenagers were, in fact, unarmed. Under public pressure to investigate the matter, police called Carillo in for questioning. He admitted that he lied about the fact that McDade and his accomplice were armed in order to get the police to respond more promptly. He was then booked into the city jail on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, and was being held on a bail of $25,000. Police say his account of the crime, in which he said both men were armed with guns, could have influenced the mindset of the officers sent to arrest the suspects.

McDade was a stand-out football player for the Azusa High School Aztecs and had a room full of trophies. McDade’s 17-year old accomplice had a criminal record of burglary, grand theft and failing to register as a gang member. Police say the accomplice broke into Carillo’s car, while McDade acted as a lookout.

‘Black men become targets of violence’

Civil activists and McDade’s family and supporters have been calling for a thorough investigation and justice for the teen.

Some have drawn parallels with the Trayvon Martin case.

They were young black men who are, when the situation comes up, targets of violence,” Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles policeroundtable, was quoted by The Daily Beast as saying.

Hutchinson also noted that the responsibility for McDade’s death should lie on Carillo, as he overstated the possible danger the two teens posed.

I think Carrillo owns a great deal of culpability,” Hutchinson said. “If he hadn’t lied, Kendrec McDade would most likely be alive. They should throw the book at him.

Others also blame the police officers who did not give warning shots or flash lights at McDade.

There’s just no way I can fathom the police not telling him ‘Stop, halt, you’re under arrest’” said Michael A. Gordon, leader of the Pasadena Community Coalition.

Neighborhood activist William Greer said the community was ready to go up in smoke because of the actions of the police officers.

The police department’s job is to serve and protect,” he noted. “They just can’t go around shooting people. It is the wild wild west here in northwest Pasadena.

Top officials and activists: Don’t jump to conclusions

Top Pasadena officials and some civil rights groups activists have called on the public not to jump to conclusions, and to the let the investigation take its course.

I ask everyone to be patient as we go out and get the facts,” said Pasadena council member Victor Gordo. He was seconded by Mayor Bill Bogaard, who also asked the public not to jump to conclusions.

Insisting on justice is different than doing a rush to judgment,” said Los Angeles civil rights activist Connie Rice. “You don’t want a rush to judgment. You want the facts collected first. Let justice speak.”

Although the cases of Trayvon Martin and Kendrec McDade appear to be similar on the surface, there are significant differences between the two. What does make them similar is the fact that both victims were black teenagers suspected of being involved in criminal activity.

Pasadena police lieutenant Phlunte Riddle notes that in Martin’s case, the teen was shot by a neighborhood watch captain on his way back home, while in McDade’s case he was killed by the police after allegedly committing a crime with his accomplice.

This wasn’t any type of profile, looking for someone of color,” Riddle said. “This was a response to an armed robbery that had just occurred with a full description. That is significantly different than the Florida case. The officers are extremely upset. They believed their lives were in danger.

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