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Pasadena officer arrested in alleged choking of stepson with dog leash
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McKay Christensen, 49, faces a third-degree felony charge in the assault of his stepson. He resigned from the police department, where he has worked since 2003 and was most recently assigned to the traffic unit.

A Pasadena police officer allegedly looped a dog leash around his stepson’s neck — choking him to the point he could barely breathe — as punishment for yanking their dogs around while taking them on a walk, authorities said in charging documents filed Thursday against the man.

McKay Christensen, 49, faces a third-degree felony charge in the assault of his stepson. He resigned from the police department, where he has worked since 2003 and was most recently assigned to the traffic unit.

“Both a criminal and internal administrative investigation into the stated allegations were initiated immediately; consequently, he was relieved of duty pending the outcome of these inquiries,” Pasadena authorities said in a statement.

Christensen’s own employer opened an investigation into him about two years after the incident, when the child’s aunt called to report abuse allegations on behalf of the child and his three siblings.

Through interviews, authorities learned of a June 14, 2017, choking, which a neighbor and his friend said they witnessed at the Pasadena apartment complex where the boy and his family also lived.

The boy, now 10, told police his stepfather had gotten “super mad” because he pulled the family’s dogs around on a leash. Christensen then looped a dog leash around his stepson’s neck and “yanked” him around “like he did the dogs,” according to charging documents.

He felt like he couldn’t breathe, he said, and his legs got weak, police wrote. He could feel the leash getting tighter, and at one point, he fell but stood up again, causing Christensen to yank him, the report alleges.

The child’s 13-year-old half-sister recalled the same incident, which happened after she and her brother jerked the family’s dogs around with their leashes while on a walk, she said.

“She stated that the defendant wrapped a dog leash around the complainant’s neck and jerked him around, causing him to ‘choke,’” police said.

He pulled on the leash, causing it to get tighter, the girl said. Her brother was crying and gasping.

A neighbor said he saw the alleged assault unfold, and that he saw Christensen standing over the child as he laid on the ground. He didn’t make any noises, and had his hands up as if he was trying to loosen the leash, he said.

The neighbor’s friend said Christensen screamed, “Do you like that?” as the boy “absolutely” looked to be in pain.

“It must have hurt him,” he said.

The boy currently lives with his father, he told police. He previously lived with his mother, siblings and Christensen at the apartment complex, including in summer 2017.

Christensen has been charged with assault of a family member impeding breathing. He has turned himself in to authorities, according to the Pasadena Police Department.

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