Attorneys for the family of a black man who was fatally shot and killed by a Pasadena police officer last year said Monday that the video of the incident is evidence that the shooting was unjustified.
Attorneys Benjamin Crump and Caree Harper presented a video during a press conference showing that Anthony McClain, while bleeding on the sidewalk after being shot in the back by police on the run, told approaching officers: “I can not breath. “However, one of them knelt on McClain’s back when he was handcuffed,” said Crump and Harper.
One of the two shots that struck McClain went through his right lung before emerging from his chest, resulting in fatal blood loss. McClain died a few hours later on August 15, 2020 at the Pasadena Huntington Memorial Hospital.
Crump, a nationally known civil rights attorney who represents part of McClain’s family, said McClain’s shooting combines the elements of two high-profile police shootings. One was that of Jacob Blake Jr., who was shot while running away from the Wisconsin police and was paralyzed. and the other was the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police when an officer kneeled on his neck.
“Anthony McClain wasn’t just shot in the back like Jacob Blake Jr.,” said Crump. But as a result, officers who handcuff his hands behind his back worsened his blood loss by kneeling on his back.
“You can hear him say hurry up, I can’t breathe,” Crump said of McClain. “And so you have elements of Jacob Blake Jr. and George Floyd both here in Anthony McClain’s death.”
Floyd was caught on video saying “I can’t breathe” in the minutes before his death, and the phrase has become synonymous with alleged police misconduct last year. Crump represents Blake’s family and has secured a $ 27 million settlement for Floyd’s family.
McClain was a passenger in a car that the Pasadena police stopped for because they did not have a front license plate. When Officer Edwin Dumaguindin asked him to get out of the car, McClain ran down the street. McClain holds his midsection while he runs, and the Pasadena police chief claims he took a gun from his waistband and looked back at the cop before he was shot twice.
McClain’s lawyers say he was holding his belt.
A gun is not clearly seen in the footage released by the Pasadena Police Department, but McClain can be seen with his hand on his waist as he begins to run.
To date, family lawyers have repeatedly highlighted the video of the car chase in which Dumaguindin shoots McClain after running out of a car he is a passenger in during a traffic obstruction.
But Crump said after the shooting, a police camera video and a viewer video show McClain needed urgent medical attention and yet an officer is still handcuffing McClain and putting his knee in his back.
“Watch this video. it tells you about the mentality of the cops, said Crump.
The video shows the officer approaching McClain with his gun drawn. McClain’s white shirt is bloody on his right back quarter. The officer admits to another officer that they believe McClain threw a gun that he was carrying. Then he moves in to arrest and treat McClain.
“I’m going to pass out,” McClain said in the video footage. “Hurry up, I can’t breathe.”
The officer asks McClain how many times he was shot and he says twice.
“I don’t have a gun,” McClain told the officers in the video.
When the officer and another officer begin handcuffing McClain, an onlooker video shows an officer’s left knee or thigh over McClain’s back, but does not show the exact location. The officer with the body camera told the onlookers, “I’m under pressure, okay,” to reassure the watchers that he is trying to stop the bleeding. The officer is heard repeatedly and assures McClain that he is trying to help him.
But Harper said the officer’s body pressure on McClain accelerated his blood loss. The department recently identified this officer in court files responding to the lawsuit as Officer Serrano, Harper said.
Pasadena police chief Bill Grisafe said the department’s guidelines allowed the use of knees to restrain an inmate. He would not discuss the details of McClain due to ongoing legal disputes.
Pasadena Police Chief John Perez, who posted police videos of the shooting, said he saw a gun in McClain’s left hand as he ran. Perez said the gun was recovered and a witness also saw McClain throw it. Forensic testing of the gun also showed that McClain’s DNA was present on it, according to Perez.
Harper said McClain was holding his Michael Kors belt buckle. She and Crump also noted that the officer who recovered the gun was among the last to arrive at the scene, and that raises questions.
Crump said the McClain video “underscores the fact that police in America seem to have a tendency to shoot black men in the back – disproportionate to anything they did to our white brothers and sisters.”