Interim Pasadena City Manager and Interim Chief of Police issued statements regarding an incident at the San Rafael Elementary School on Sunday, August 13, 2022.
By News Desk
Videos from Pasadena Police body-worn camera, and California Metro Patrol body-Worn camera, were released along with the timeline of “Suspicious Person” call and the California Metro report.
1- Interim City Manager Cynthia Kurtz
Statement from Interim Pasadena City Manager Cynthia Kurtz:
The City of Pasadena holds itself to the highest standards in protecting the safety of our residents and schools as well as in the way we treat anyone we encounter. We received a call on Sunday morning informing us that someone with a backpack had climbed over the San Rafael Elementary School fence, and officers were dispatched to see if there was a break-in underway. At the subsequent request of PUSD Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonald, we have reviewed the City response to determine whether a PUSD employee was mistreated in the response to the call.
We have made public the tape of this call for service. The caller is concerned, but not inflammatory, and there are no racial overtones to the call. The Police Officers responding to the call found the campus gate was locked, but the door to the school was visibly open. One person was observed inside the school, dressed in black shorts, a white t-shirt and an open blue outer-shirt. Officers questioned him and per protocol, handcuffed him for approximately 6 1/2 minutes until they could verify that he was a PUSD employee with permission to be on a closed campus. The PUSD employee was not “proned out”, and the handcuffing was carried out by a female Police Officer quietly and respectfully. The PUSD employee was likewise polite and cooperative.
Disclaimer: Audio subtitles are generated automatically and may not be completely accurate.
It should be noted that the long arms which were carried by the Police Officers in this response are non-lethal and use a projectile made of foam, designed to stun and not injure. This was not a SWAT or military type response in any manner.
Review of video
We have reviewed the camera video from the Pasadena officers and from the PUSD Metro security officers who responded. Our review has concluded that everyone conducted themselves in a professional way and consistent with City of Pasadena and Police Department policies.
Partnership with PUSD
We value our partnership with the Pasadena Unified School District and it is our responsibility to protect their students, assets and property. Especially these days, we need to be vigilant of our school grounds and verify, when called, that only authorized personnel have access to school grounds whether the schools are closed or open. We are working closely with Metro Security, who is PUSD’s contractor, and appreciate their assistance and support through all of this. Because of the technology available to us, you may review the encounter with the employee yourself and make your own determination about what happened.
2- Interim Police Chief Jason Clawson
Statement from Interim Pasadena Police Chief Jason Clawson:
Once I was made aware of the incident by Superintendent Brian McDonald, I immediately initiated an internal review so we could present the facts to the community. Our job is to approach a situation based on the information provided to us in the initial call to our dispatch center. Our officers received that information and conducted themselves in a professional and polite manner as I’d expect from our entire department. The custodian was detained, cooperated and understood the process the officers had to go through to validate that he was permitted to be on a closed school campus.
3- Timeline of Suspicious Person Call* at San Rafael Elementary School
*As released by the City of Pasadena:
- On Sunday 8/14/2022, at approximately 8:24 AM, Pasadena Police Dispatch received a call of a suspicious person scaling/jumping the fence that is located to the rear of San Rafael Elementary School. When asked, the caller further stated the fence was near the playground area of the basketball courts.
- The caller was unsure of the subject’s gender and stated it could have been a tall female or a male subject. The caller further described the subject as being White and was seen wearing a dark-colored shirt, possibly brown in color.
- At approximately 8:41 AM officers arrive on the scene and can see an open door to one of the school buildings. Officers begin to request Metro Patrol’s assistance with bringing keys to open the locked gate to the rear of the school.
- At about 8:50 AM Officers broadcast that they hear what sounds like ransacking inside of an office in the building.
- At 8:53 AM officers broadcast that they see a male subject, later identified as the head custodian, standing at the open door.
- At 8:56 AM a male wearing a powder blue shirt and shorts was detained.
- While detained, the custodian tells officers he is working overtime, and that the Principal of the school, Mr. Ramirez, is aware that he is on campus and can confirm everything.
- Officers on scene call Mr. Ramirez using the custodian’s phone, and Mr. Ramirez confirms that the custodian was permitted to be on campus to do some work on at the school.
- At approximately 9:03 AM officers remove the handcuffs from the custodian and he is released from being detained. Officers clear the call and the location at approximately 9:10 AM and Metro Patrol took control of the scene.
4- California Metro Patrol Report*
*A Private security guard agency. Redacted. As released by the City of Pasadena:
San Rafael Elementary
1090 Nithsdale Rd
PPD On-Scene for a subject that jumped the fence and they need access and have an open door upon arrival to 1090 nithsdale i encountered pasadena police officers at the north entrance of the school. my attention was directed to the fence of the school on the west side on san miguel. XXXXXXXX once there i was under the presumption that i would be opening the fence for the officers,i noticed the fence was open with bolt cutters nearby. i made entry through the fence.
i was greeted by Officer Vasquez and Sergeant Rappuchi and what appeared to be a janitor detained on the steps. the janitor was identified as XXXXXXXX He stated he was on campus on overtime to clean the shcool. XXXXXXX mentioned that he could provide the number to the school principal Mr Ramirez.
Sergeant Rappuchi spoke on the phone with Mr Ramirez and verified the OT that was approved for XXXX, and he was quickly released from handcuffs.
Sergeant Rappuchi then made contact with me to share the developments, he also stated that in order to gain access through the gate they used the bolt cutters i saw earlier to cut off one ring from the chain link to opne the gate. i verified that the lock is still in working order and the fence is able to close and lock using the chain.
Soon after PPD departed and i remianed on scene to make contact with Mr Ramirez to gather more information.
once Principal Ramirez arrived i quickly noticed his iratre demeanor. He began exclaiming “this is f**** bullsh** they should not be handcuffing one of my janitors. i bet if he was white he wouldnt have been treated like that” followed by “f*** these nosy ass white neighbors, how about when it was white kids jumping the fence vandalising classrooms and drawing dicks on the walls and leaving beer cans on the roof no one calls.”
Principal Ramirez then advised me that he would be contacting super intendant McDonald to advise him of his frustration. After his rant i was then able to ask Mr Ramirez the reason for the janitor working on sunday and he stated that the school was lent to a program called PEF (Pasadena Educational Foundation) and the school needed to be prepared for the start of the school year.
i then asked Mr Ramirez for his contact info XXXX and departed shortly after.
Sun 8114/2022 1124 PM – HERNANDEZ41
A- Pasadena Police Body-Worn camera:
B- (Link): California Metro Patrol Body-Worn camera.
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