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Family Files Suit After Child Pepper Sprayed During Impromptu Protest Following Death Of Anthony McClain In Pasadena

PASADENA (CBSLA) — A Pasadena family has filed suit against the city and the police department, claiming officers violated their First Amendment rights during an impromptu protest following the death of Anthony McClain, a Black man who was shot by police.

Pasadena Family
Nafissatou Kaba and her 11-year-old son, Natori Beard, attend a press conference Wednesday announcing a lawsuit against the city of Pasadena and the police department. (CBSLA)

According to the family's attorney, Nafissatou Kaba and her 11-year-old son, Natori Beard, were at La Pintoresca Park — across the street from where McClain was fatally shot on North Raymond Avenue — at the time of the shooting.

Following the shooting, the family's attorney said officers with the Pasadena Police Department blocked off access to the street with yellow tape and an impromptu protest over the killing of the 32-year-old formed in the park.

According to the attorney, officers crossed the yellow tape about an hour after the shooting and entered the park — pushing protesters back as they questioned police about the shooting.

"At some point, one officer tasered an African-American male," the attorney said in a statement. "Within a split second, another officer sprayed mace into the large crowd of protesters. One of those hit by the mace was Natori."

The attorney claims both Natori and his mother were traumatized and injured by the actions of the police officers.

"He's afraid of the police, he doesn't really want to the park," Kaba said.

The city of Pasadena responded to the claim late Wednesday night in a statement that said, in part:

"The crowd that gathered after the officer involved shooting was understandably emotional, and additional officers were called to assist with securing the shooting scene to prevent contamination of the evidence," the city said. "There were a few individuals in the crowd who became increasingly aggressive towards officers and as the situation escalated, officers used a Taser on one of these individuals after threats of violence were made and pepper spray was also used to disperse the encroaching crowd."

The city said that when officers learned a child had been exposed to the pepper spray, paramedics were called to the scene.

"The child's mother took the opportunity to spray officers with her own pepper spray as the officers were calling for paramedics," the city said. "The child would later tell treating paramedics that he was exposed when he ran towards the crowd of people who were sprayed with the pepper spray, to look for his mother who he believed to be involved in the altercation with officers. It is truly unfortunate that a young child was involved in this incident at all."

Video of the incident can be seen on the city's website.

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