LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California called today for an independent investigation into the Pasadena Police Department's fatal shooting of Leroy Barnes Jr. during a Feb. 19 traffic stop.
The fatal shooting of the Pasadena resident -- and the shifting accounts provided by police following the incident -- raises troubling questions about whether the officers involved in the incident purposely provided false information.
Police initially reported that Barnes exited the vehicle and fired at officers, but those accounts were later conflicted by Pasadena Police Chief Bernard Melekian, who stated Barnes never left the vehicle and was actually in the back seat of the car when he was shot by at least one officer. Melekian also stated that Barnes did not shoot at officers, though he was armed and assaulted an officer.
The ACLU/SC is also concerned about disturbing reports from witnesses who allege that officers continued to shoot Barnes after he fell still on the street. News accounts of the incident further state that police fired their weapons into the air as crowds gathered around the scene of the shooting.
'The Pasadena Police Department has issued conflicting and, at best, incomplete information about the circumstances of this tragic shooting. This will raise doubts and questions in the minds of many people, and it should,' said Ramona Ripston, ACLU/SC executive director. 'Because of that, the department should stand aside and allow an independent investigation to take place that can focus on getting out the truth about this incident.'
Added Peter Bibring, ACLU/SC staff attorney: 'It's troubling that the Pasadena Police Department is changing its story; that raises questions as to why they gave out erroneous information to begin with, and whether officers initially lied about what happened. The residents of Pasadena must be given a clear account of what led to the shooting, and why the police initially made incorrect reports that the victim fired on them.'