It was the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and an Eagle Rock resident named Steve was walking his dogs down Figueroa Street near Colorado Boulevard when the sight of a police car from neighboring Pasadena caught his eye. Steve watched as the officer released a homeless man, who appeared to be handcuffed and drunk, from the back of the squad car at about 5 p.m. on Nov. 24 The officer quickly sped away, leaving the homeless man wearing a large jacket standing on sidewalk near the Eagle Rock post office. Steve was troubled by the sight:
“I was appalled to see a police officer from a neighboring city drop off a homeless person who was very intoxicated into the streets. This poses a danger to the homeless person as well as the general public. It is unbelievable that someone who is supposed to protect and serve just drop their “problem” off in the next city…”
But Pasadena police, which looked into the incident after an inquiry by The Eastsider late last month, said this was not a case of a homeless person being dumped into another city.
Instead, they said the officer was actually helping the homeless man, who they said was not drunk or handcuffed, return to the location of his choice. In fact, the officer gave the man, who had been picked up in Pasadena after being released from a hospital, $3 for bus fare, said Lt. Rodney A. Wallace with the Pasadena Police Department
The officer picked the man up near San Rafael and Linda Vista avenues, about a mile east of the Eagle Rock post office, after receiving a report of a suspicious person. The officer found the man sitting on the ground. “He had been released from the hospital,” Wallace said. “The officer determined that he was not intoxicated. There were no warrants. There was no reason to detain him.”
The man declined the officer’s offer to be driven to a Pasadena homeless shelter. Instead the man said he wanted to get to a bus stop in Los Angeles so he could travel to Encino “He was not from Pasadena,” Wallace said.
So the officer drove the homeless man to Eagle Rock, where there is a bus stop in front of the Eagle Rock post office, in what Wallace described as a “public assist.”
While the incident may have appeared strange to onlookers, Wallace said it was simply a case of an officer helping out a citizen.