Certainties exist in life.
Pasadena officials would have us believe one of those certainties played out at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Mentone Avenue last week: Pull a gun on a cop, expect to be shot.
If that’s what Leroy Barnes did, he deserved to pay with his life.
If that’s what happened.
In public life certainties exist as well. Misrepresentations will cost agencies their reputations.
The Pasadena police department’s reputation is on the line because of misrepresentations.
Did Pasadena police officers involved in the shooting mislead police spokeswoman Janet Pope-Givens and subsequently Chief Barney Melekian?
Or, did Pope-Givens and Melekian mislead the public with their initial statements at the scene?
After the shooting of
Barnes, 37, a parolee with a state prison record that included a conviction for firing at an officer in 1993, Pope-Givens and Melekian both spoke to the media.
Pope-Givens said Barnes was in a car that had been pulled over. She said Barnes got out of the car. She said Barnes fired on officers who shot back and killed him.
A few hours later Melekian said, “It appears from all accounts the officers’ version is correct.” He said the department would release a video of the incident within days.
The next day, the stories changed.
It turns out Barnes did not get out of the car. And he did not fire on officers. As for the video, Melekian said there is a legal challenge that prevents its release.
Which raises other questions:
What should we believe now?
Why hasn’t the Sheriff’s Department been called in to independently investigate?
Certainly the Bulldogs in the Homicide Bureau have the trust of many other communities.
Instead, the Pasadena will handle the investigation on its own and turn over those results to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI.
Adding insult to injury, the Police Department ordered a streetside memorial to Barnes dismantled, because it was blocking the sidewalk.
The Pasadena Police Department has lost some of its stature and much of its credibility.
Lacking credibility, what leadership can Melekian offer that would bridge the gap between Pasadena’s hard-working police officers and the community they serve?
What’s to say he won’t be misled again?
It’s time to bring in competent and experienced detectives from the Sheriff’s Department to repair any credibility gap that may have formed.