Police said Oscar Carrillo called 911 on March 24 saying he had been robbed at gunpoint while waiting in line at a taco truck in Pasadena. Responding officers confronted and opened fire on a suspect, Kendrec McDade, when he allegedly reached for his waistband. McDade, 19, died from his wounds.
No weapons were found on McDade, and Carrillo later admitted that he lied about having seen guns.
"When you are afraid for your life and you need help, you make a phone call, you don't think when you call," Carrillo said. "You just want the help right away."
Police said Carrillo lied about the men being armed to get police to respond quickly. He was arrested last week and jailed on a federal immigration hold, but on Tuesday, Carrillo was released with an electronic monitor.
Carrillo, who said he works for a cellphone company in the area, said he recognized McDade that night.
According to police, a nearby surveillance camera captured the suspects stealing a laptop and backpack from Carrillo's car.
"When I turned, my car was open, I see them running down the block," Carrillo said. "I screamed at one of them, 'I know one of you, just give me my stuff back.'"
Carrillo said he followed the two suspects to try and get his materials back. He dialed 911, the call dropped, so he called again, he said, reporting that he had been robbed for his backpack at gunpoint.
He said he cried when he heard that officers had shot and killed a suspect. He said he might not have made the call if he knew someone would be shot.
"I don't think no one deserves to die like this," Carrillo said.
McDade's family is filing a federal lawsuit against the city of Pasadena. The lawsuit alleges wrongful death, negligence and a violation of McDade's civil rights.
According to the lawsuit, McDade "did not die immediately." After being shot multiple times in the chest, the lawsuit alleges, McDade "tried to talk with officers," but was left on the street "for a protracted period of time without ... first aid and he died at the hospital."
The Pasadena Police Department has not commented on the suit.
Jeffrey Newlen and Mathew Griffin, the Pasadena police officers involved in the shooting, have been placed on paid administrative leave.
The district attorney is determining whether to file charges against Carrillo for lying about the gun in his 911 call. Prosecutors on Monday declined to file an involuntary manslaughter charge against him, but they are still investigating the matter.
Carrillo's attorney said because of his immigration status, he will likely be deported whether charges are filed or not. However, he could serve jail time if he were to be convicted.
Carrillo is a married father of two.
City News Service contributed to this report.