Rosemead man who attacked deputies was depressed

I really believe that the meltdown that led to Ernesto Castaneda’s death was probably an anniversarial reaction to something. In March 2008 he evaded officers while drunk and earned a conviction in El Monte Superior Court.

This March (Sunday to be exact) he went on a bender and attacked deputies with a machete and a baseball bat before they shot him to death.  Jennifer McLain’s story from today’s newspaper leads me to believe that Castaneda’s depression and the ides of March are somehow linked. Here’s portions of her story:

ROSEMEAD – The young man who was shot and killed by deputies Sunday after brandishing a machete struggled with depression since the death of his mother, neighbors said.

Ernesto Castaneda, 22, died at a nearby hospital on Sunday after deputies shot him. Castaneda’s father called the police on his son around 11 a.m. on Sunday because Castaneda was “high” and armed with a machete, according to sheriff’s deputies.


“He was a good boy,” said neighbor Lorraine O’Neill, who has known Castaneda since he was a child. “He just got depressed after his mom died three years ago and he’s been struggling since then.”

Last March, Castaneda was convicted of evading arrest and being under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a vehicle.

I also think it’s interesting to compare how the sheriff’s department has handled the case to Pasadena’s handling of the Leroy Barnes shooting.  

Continue reading “Rosemead man who attacked deputies was depressed” »

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Altadena OIS reported

This from reporter Robert Hong in Pasadena:

ALTADENA – A man was shot by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 3000 block of Highview Avenue, authorities said.

No deputies were harmed in the incident, and the man was taken to a local hospital.

No details were released as to why the man was shot.

No further information was available.

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Police chiefs get together in Pasadena *

Barney Melekian is hosting police* chiefs from around the state for an annual training symposium beginning Tuesday at the newly reopened Pasadena Convention Center:

Here’s a link to the schedule.

On Thursday, Melekian hosts a workshop: “Police Chief as City Manager”

At least he’s not giving lessons in how to handle the press at an officer involved shooting.


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Pasadena cops order Coroner’s report sealed

The Pasadena Police Department has told the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner to withhold investigative and autopsy information in the Leroy Barnes shooting for “security reasons.” Apparently there’s a real need for something to remain secret in the case..

This from Coroner’s Chief Ed Winter:

“The law enforcement agency asked for more time to do further investigation in the case.

We’re not allowed to release any information until the hold is released. Most of the time it’s for follow up on more information. They are probably still seeking witnesses and this so (anyone interested) isn’t alerted to the facts by reading the newspaper.”

The hold could last for as long as 90 days, Winter said.

“After 90 days we send them a note and make a call, ‘It’s been 90 days, what the heck? At that point they are going to have to justify why or what’s taking so long to finish up this investigation,” Winter added.


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Thursday’s column (bring the Sheriff’s Department into Pasadena)

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.

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Interesting comments on Pasadena’s officer involved shooting


Police Link, a blog that serves as a round-up of law enforcement news from around the country has some interesting comments posted regarding last Thursday’s OIS in Pasadena.

Leroy Barnes, Jr. a 37-year-old parolee with a history of run-ins with the law, was shot and killed by officers after a traffic stop. Here’s a link and the photo caption:

Pasadena Police handed out this photograph of the carried by Leroy Barnes. (Photo: Pasadena Police)


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Should Pasadena Chief Melekian resign?

There’s a growing amount of anti-police sentiment brewing in Northwest Pasadena following the officer involved shooting that claimed the life of Leroy Barnes.

Much of the anger and outrage has been directed at Pasadena police Chief Barney Melekian, who stumbled in his initial statements to the press and subsequent appearance at City Hall Monday night.

Doubtless, Melekian was looking to exit the police department when he accepted a role as the citys acting city manager. In light of the recent shooting and brewing community unrest, is it time for Melekian to resign?


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Shooting prompts waffling in Pasadena police department

First Police Chief Barney Melekian promised to hold a press conference Monday where he would discuss the officer involved shooting of Leroy Barnes.

Then he rescinded the promise.

Then he rescinded his decision not to speak and talked to reporters after all. Here’s some of what was said:

Apparently 11 shots were fired in the incident. Barnes did not fire his weapon. I’ll have more when it becomes known 

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Police seem to back off original story in OIS..tensions rise

Police Chief Barney Melekian is now softening the official version of events that led to the death of 38-year-old Leroy Barnes in Northwest Pasadena.

While police originally claimed Barnes got out of his car and began firing at officers, Melekian now says that Barnes was shot while in the car after a struggle with officers. He would not back up his earlier claim that Barnes shot at officers saying only that his original statement came at a time when the incident was still under investigation.

Interesting that Melekian consults the Sheriff’s Department. Perhaps he should take some lessons from Sheriff’s Homicide officials who are very careful about what they release in the early minutes following a shooting….

There’s more to report as well…

Photographer Keith Birmingham says tensions in the neighborhood are high. He witnessed several men carrying firearms in the open. Several people in the community have advised our reporters to stay away until tension subsides….

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Man killed by officers had previous run-in with Pasadena Police *

Leroy Barnes, the man shot and killed after apparently firing on Pasadena police officers had been in a shootout with Pasadena police in the early 1990s, according to authorities.

Barnes apparently had a long criminal history that includes convictions for tresspassing, spousal battery and assaulting an officer. A story is coming and we’ll continue to flesh out the details of the shooting throughout the day.

*UPDATE from Nate McIntire:

We don’t have the shootout confirmed and the charge against him for assaulting an officer (w/o a weapon) was dismissed. Convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, battery, driving without a license and littering are all confirmed. The web update has all the right info

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