The night of August 15, Pasadena Police officers conducted a traffic stop that ended in the shooting of Anthony McClain, an African-American man, by Officer Edwin Dumaguindin. McClain’s last two hours on this earth were spent alone at Huntington Hospital, leaving his three children without a father.
In the weeks following McClain’s death, strangers began to rally behind his story, protesting against the murder of African-Americans by police, and screaming “no justice, no peace” into the high heavens.
On Friday, Aug. 28, McClain’s family held a memorial service in his honor. Approximately 100 people attended the vigil at Brookside Park in Pasadena. Although the family initially declined to speak at the memorial, they thought twice about it and felt that McClain would have been genuinely heartfelt by all of the community support.
“Anthony was definitely family-oriented,” McClain’s cousin, Brandie Rogers said during her speech. “The last time I saw him was on the fourth of July, which was at a family function. And he was always with his family and always with his children. He was full of laughter, jokes, pranks.”
The family believes that his killing was an injustice. The police body camera footage showed that as McClain ran from the car, Dumaguindin chased after him and then shot at him twice, hitting him once in the back and once in the left shoulder. The Pasadena Police Department publicly stated that the officer shot at McClain because he saw McClain reach into his belt and toss a gun to the side with his left hand. They referenced a shiny object seen near McClain’s waist in the recovered footage, which they claimed was the firearm. According to the police, the firearm was found later after the shooting took place.
“At the end of the day, that was a human being, that was my brother,” said O’Asha Bales, McClain’s sister, during her speech. “And if it was somebody else’s brother, he would feel the same way, so why wouldn’t we come together and say, this isn’t right, and it needs to be taken care of. This is ridiculous. It’s happening too much.”
Critics of the police say that their public statement and stance on the video is perplexing because they say that the shiny object seen in the police footage could have been McClain’s belt buckle, and not a gun. They also argue that the gun that was found is a black gun with no shiny parts, so it wouldn’t shine on camera the way the officers claim it did. The police also allege that McClain threw the gun to the other side of the street with his left hand, but McClain is right-handed.
Many of the attendees at the memorial service disagreed that they saw a gun in the video.
“In the video, they paused the video, circled where I guess they thought they saw a gun,” said Eve Angel, a memorial attendee. “Even in the video, it’s really hard to see that.”
Angel heard about the memorial through social media. She says she only watched the footage once because she found it disturbing. Other attendees that have watched the video more than once agreed with her.
“I actually watched the video a couple of times,” said Brandon Lamar, a member of the Humans Relations Committee for the city of Pasadena. “Analyzed it a couple of times. I was there the night he got shot. I didn’t see it, but I was there a couple of hours afterward. To be honest man, I didn’t see a gun. I didn’t see where he threw the gun. I didn’t see where he reached for a gun. I didn’t see where he pulled a gun out of his pants. I saw him pulling up his pants and that’s just my honest opinion.”
Many cities have experienced civil unrest since George Floyd was killed by a white police officer on May 25. This led to thousands of people across the country protesting against police brutality.
A few attendees brought protest posters to the McClain’s memorial. One sign read “End Police Brutality / Black Lives Matter / No Justice No Peace.” Another sign read, “Say His Name #AnthonyMcClain.”
“The [hard] part is that I have friends and family members who are in law enforcement and who are Black as well,” said Lamar. “They’re more torn between it than I am. So it’s just making sure to keep the balance between both, but also still fighting for our rights against systemic racism that keeps happening over and over again.”
The Pasadena Police Department released Anthony McClain’s criminal records within days of the shooting, even though they hadn’t released the name of the shooting officer until a few days ago. Across the country, protesters are still marching in the name of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Philando Castille, Jacob Blake, Dijon Kizzee and many other victims of police brutality.
“We have to keep saying it,” said Bales. “We have to keep saying his name because tomorrow it’ll be someone else and it’ll be another name. And he’ll be, oh, the one in Pasadena.”
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