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Speak Up Now to Save Black Lives

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

Pasadena’s City Council may finally be primed to act on the matter of police oversight. All it cost was another Black Life.


On August 15, 2020, Pasadena Police shot Anthony McClain in the back when he ran away from a traffic stop. The 32 year old was a father of three, son, grandson, and friend. In a matter of seconds, an officer killed Mr. McClain despite the fact that he was a passenger in a car reportedly stopped because it lacked a front license plate.

We ask you to watch the videos yourself. Avoid bias by skipping the narrated “highlight reel” entitled “Critical Incident Video.” Instead, watch each of the subsequent police videos with your own discerning eye. What questions arise in your mind?

We pondered:

  • Did Pasadena Police really make a U-turn to pull over this driver in this particular neighborhood exclusively because it lacked front tags?

  • Why was Mr. McClain asked to exit the vehicle?

  • Why does the body camera footage of the officer who killed Mr. McClain start after the officer fired his weapon?

  • Why do Pasadena Police officers have the option of deactivating their body cameras?

  • When police saw a wounded, unarmed, incapacitated human laying on the ground, bleeding out, gasping for air, why did they insist upon handcuffing him and keeping him in a face-down position known to restrict breathing?

  • Where is the video of the officer finding the gun that Mr. McClain reportedly pulled out during the deadly pursuit?

We recognize that many details need to be sorted in this case, but also note that if elected officials had voted on impactful police oversight sooner, an Independent Police Auditor could have been on the scene, actively investigating and obtaining answers to these and other questions.

You Can Act Now to bring Impactful, Empowered Oversight to the Pasadena Police Department.

  • Independent Investigatory Authority

  • Subpoena Power

  • Police Department Policy Review and Reform Authority

  • Adequate Funding

  • An Enforceable Disciplinary Role

  • Training in Policing, Civil Rights, Equity, and Cultural Sensitivity

  • Bans on Members with Conflicts of Interest (e.g. police officers and officer family members)

The City Council’s Police Oversight Structure Proposal has now been amended to grant the Independent Police Auditor (IPA) subpoena power through the City Attorney’s Office. This is an improvement over the prior proposal which lacked subpoena power.

Concerns with the Amended Oversight Proposal Include:

  • City Attorney Conflict of Interest: The City Attorney is tasked with protecting Pasadena police and city officials, which creates potential barriers to IPA investigations into the Pasadena Police Department.

  • Lack of several of the Key Components of Effective Community Oversight Bodies

  • Perhaps most concerning is this oversight proposal statement: “Any information obtained or reviewed by the IPA, as well as any reports issued by the IPA, could not be used to impact any disciplinary or personnel decisions.”

    • This stifles the oversight body’s potential impact on policing.

    • A more appropriate potential solution is to instead state that IPA information and reports may be used except where prohibited by law.

Action Steps:

Demand that City Council take action now to provide the Effective Police Oversight that Pasadena desperately needs. Regardless of your city of residence, your voice makes a difference.

  • Email City Council Members demanding an Empowered Police Oversight Body with independent investigatory authority, subpoena power, policy review and reform authority, appropriate funding, multi-faceted training (including civil rights), bans on members with conflicts of interest, and an enforceable disciplinary role.

  • Submit public comments to be read at the 8/24/20 City Council Meeting (Agenda Item #6).

  • Watch the City Council Meeting here or here on 8/24/20 at 2pm

Sample Comments and Email Addresses are provided below.

Together, we can change the way our community is policed. United, We can Save Black Lives.

-The B.R.E.A.T.H.E. Justice 365 Team


Sample Comments: The best comments are personal, unique and include specific demands. Letters with similar content will not be read aloud at the City Council Meeting, so please make your letter stand out. If you have difficulty drafting comments, consider using the sample below as a reference point.

____ (unique opening statement). I am a __, __, and __ (Pasadena citizen, Concerned non-resident carefully following the McClain case, occupation, parent, etc) . I watched the video Pasadena Police killing Anthony McClain and I _____ (personal response, feelings, emotions). _____ (list some questions you have regarding the released video)? I demand Empowered Oversight of the Pasadena Police Department. This oversight must include investigatory authority, subpoena power, policy review and reform authority, appropriate funding, multi-faceted training (including civil rights), bans on members with conflicts of interest and an enforceable disciplinary role. Please do not give us a glorified Complaint Board with no power to act. The Independent Police Auditor should be housed in a separate City Prosecutor’s office, not the City Attorney’s office due to the grave conflict of interest there. The commission and IPA should have explicitly stated authority to both Conduct and Review investigations. The police chief should enact recommendations made by the community oversight board unless such recommendations are deemed illegal. PPD has done things their way long enough. August 15 showed us, again, the deadly results of PPD’s training, policies and procedures. I stand with my community and demand safe, accountable, transparent, community-focused policing. Please act now to provide Pasadenans with an empowered police oversight body. ____ (unique conclusion statement).

Pasadena City Council Email Addresses (Type council members’ names within the subject or email body to avoid placement in their Spam folders):



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