PASADENA — Friends and family members of a 19-year-old Azusa man shot to death by police in Pasadena two weeks ago said their tearful goodbyes Saturday, as community leaders continued their calls for justice in the fatal shooting.
Kendrec Lavelle “Mac” McDade died March 24 after being shot by two Pasadena police officers in the 700 block of Sunset Avenue.
The officers shot McDade as he reached in or around his waistband, police said. He was found to be unarmed, despite initial false reports from a 9-1-1 caller that he had a gun, according to officials.
Loved ones and community leaders eulogized McDade Saturday before laying him to rest at the Mountain View Mortuary and Cemetery, while renewing calls for a transparent, thorough and just investigation.
Joe Brown, president of the NAACP’s Pasadena branch, has been an outspoken advocate for the McDade family in the wake of the fatal shooting.
Even in death, he said, McDade can continue to be a force for positive change as community members advocate for justice in his name.
“It takes a lion to tangle with a lion,” he said. “(And) there will be a rumble in the jungle. Be prepared to hear that within the next few weeks.”
A graduate of Azusa High School and student at Citrus College, McDade was remembered and mourned Saturday by hundreds of people who crowded into the Metropolitan Baptist Church on Fair Oaks Avenue.
Family friend Nicole Comas read a statement on behalf of McDade’s mother, Anya Slaughter.
“I keep hoping I’ll wake up and this was a dream,” she said. “You were everything and more to me. My first child, my first love, so precious as a flower and as gorgeous as a bloomed rose.”
“I wanted you to be proud of the young man you grew to be and always strive to be the best,” Comas said on behalf of Slaughter. “I thank God for giving me 19 years with you.”
McDade’s uncle, Flent Adlean, thanked the community for supporting the family through the difficult time.
“We are grateful beyond measure,” he said. “We believe that grief is lessened when it is shared, and your sharing in this grieving process with us has made the pain easier to bear.”
McDade is survived by his mother, Anya Slaughter, his father, Kenneth McDade, four brothers, two sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and a large group of cousins and other relatives.
Information that has come forward since the fatal shooting has left McDade’s loved ones and many members of the community demanding answers. Family members have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police department, Chief Phillip Sanchez and officers Mathew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen in connection with the shooting.
The lawsuit alleges that the police department has a pattern and practice of targeting young black men, and that the detective assigned to investigate McDade’s death is actively involved in a cover-up.
McDade was unarmed, though a man who initially called 9-1-1 reported being robbed at gunpoint. The first shots fired by police at McDade were fired by an officer seated inside a patrol car.
Police arrested a Oscar Carrillo, 26, of Pasadena on suspicion of manslaughter for making the false allegation regarding a gun, however Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials declined to file charges against him.
Carrillo’s attorney has said that police were making a scapegoat of his client in order to cover for their own wrongdoing.
Friends and family members described McDade as an admirable young man who excelled both academically and on the athletic fields. During the off-season for football, McDade’s primary sport, he took part in track and field, setting school records in the long jump, the high jump, the triple jump and relay racing.
His “No Guts No Glory Award remains on display at the high school’s gym.
Fellow students and teachers told of how McDade’s death has had a deep affect on students at his alma mater of Azusa High School.
Amanda Brown described McDade as a friendly, family-oriented person.
“He loved people and he loved to entertain,” she said. “Having a pleasant personality, he was often the life of parties. He was also a respectful, good-hearted young man and fun to be around. He was very close to his family, especially his mother.”
Religious leader, Mother Dorothy Evans of the Refuge Christian Center, called on the community to rally in support of the younger generation.
“Don’t wait until someone gets killed and join the political bandwagon,” she said.
Zion Star Missionary Baptist Church Pastor John Bledsoe agreed.
“What this incident, what this circumstance has done, is it has brought more organizations in the San Gabriel Valley together to support this family,” Bledsoe said.
All too often, he added, “We don’t act until we have tragedies. We need to be more pro-active, rather than reactive, and we need to do it before things occur.”