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The Chief Weathers The Storm

Black news from Pasadena - Chief Sanchez and robbery suspect shootingIn the midst of what may be the biggest emergency since he arrived in Pasadena, in July 2009, Chief Philip Sanchez has proven that he is up to the job. The recent shooting of Kendrec McDade, on March 24, 2012 in Pasadena, California seemed tragic but was made even more tragic when it was determined that McDade was unarmed and that the 911 caller had not told the truth about his alleged robbers being armed.

The facts that began to surface showed that McDade was, in fact, unarmed when he was shot and killed by two Pasadena Police officers. The two officers, basing their actions on a belief that the alleged robbers were armed, acted in apparent self defense as they were in pursuit of the two young men identified by the 911 call.

With the national spotlight on the Trayvon Martin case and the facts of that tragedy fresh on the minds of all of America added to racial tensions running high, the comparisons were eerie and inevitable. Trayvon Martin was a young unarmed Black male and dead at the hands of someone acting with authority. McDade was, likewise, a young Black man, unarmed, and now dead at the hands of someone with authority.

Pasadena Police Chief Sanchez embarked on a whirlwind tour of his city to assure the citizens that the matter would not be swept under the proverbial rug without some fact based results. In one day Chief Sanchez met with ministers, the NAACP, and local radio stations. Sanchez also appeared on local television. He went made all the rounds, until he had no more places to go and addressed the people and answered their questions, no matter how long the question or how long it took to answer.

When Sanchez took over as Chief, he had promised transparency, now he is demonstrating what transparency looks like. The chief, in the midst of the storm, made himself available to those in the community who wanted to know what happened to cause the death of yet another young Black man. A poignant moment occurred when the Chief played the audio where the 911 call was made. The tape played at a large community church and seemed to satisfy the crowd and served as evidence that the chief was not about hiding anything. His actions seem to have satisfied most who wanted to deal with the question of what are two officers to do when it is reported that two men with guns were running in the neighborhood, with suspect motives. In this case, the 911 caller was lying about the guns and later arrested.

This case will remain a mystery to many who want it to be an open and shut case of police misconduct, but some cases are not so clear cut. If a person believes that their life is in imminent danger they can use deadly force to protect themselves and, in some cases, they can protect a third party. If in this case the police officers reasonably believed that Mr. McDade had a deadly weapon and would use it on the officers, the officers have a right to use deadly force.

The fact that no gun was found leaves the whole situation open to speculation. Some people are asking whether there was ever even a crime committed? Was there even an alleged robbery? I guess we will never really know. One thing for sure, time and good investigation will tell.

As far as the absence of a gun, Renatta Cooper reminded me of a time when a gun would have been planted on the deceased. At least we don't have that here. I find it interesting to hear people ask the police what are they going do to to stop the crime in our neighborhood? That's like asking a man's wife when is the neighbor's house going to be cleaned? At some point you have to take responsibility for stopping crime in your own house. The Chief of Police has opened up and talked to the community for what he's responsible for. When will we each take responsibility for the crimes in our homes and in our neighborhoods?

At my house when I was a child, profanity and fighting were not allowed. Some people want allow their children to curse and sag. Now we see where this has gotten us. Our kids are out of control!


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