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Activists call for answers about fatal shooting of couple by Inglewood police

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Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice hold a news conference to demand answers from Inglewood Police and city officials regarding the deaths of Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin, who were killed by police in February.

A group of clergy members and activists demanded answers Wednesday from the city of Inglewood about why police officers fatally shot a couple found unconscious in their car earlier this year.

The city’s Police Department has released few details about the Feb. 21 shooting of Kisha Michael, 31, and Marquintan Sandlin, 32, other than to say in a brief news release that officers came across the couple as their car was idling in the middle of the road at the intersection of Inglewood Avenue and Manchester Boulevard shortly after 3 a.m. The officers saw that Michael had a gun and ordered the couple to exit the vehicle before the shooting occurred, the department’s statement said.

“It is troubling when there are more questions than answers,” said Guillermo Torres of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, a grass-roots alliance of faith leaders. “There’s no transparency ... when officials that swear to uphold justice cannot give answers.”

A coroner’s report said the couple appeared “unconscious” and Michael had a gun in her lap. “An unknown exchange” occurred between police officers and the couple, according to the coroner’s report, before police opened fire.

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Thirteen bullets struck Michael in the head, neck and back. Sandlin was shot seven times, including twice in the head, the autopsy report said. Police have refused to say whether the couple reached for the gun or threatened officers before the shooting, citing an ongoing investigation.

Wednesday’s news conference took place about two weeks after The Times reported that the city’s Civilian Police Oversight Commission rarely meets and has no authority to investigate allegations of police misconduct or police shootings.

About 10 activists said they were observing All Soul’s Day and Day of the Dead on Wednesday by remembering the lives of Michael and Sandlin. They called on the city to release more about the shooting, including why Sandlin was shot if he was unarmed and whether the officers will be disciplined.

“We are deeply, deeply saddened that nothing has transpired over the last eight months,” said the Rev. Francisco Garcia of Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Inglewood. “We are here to say that we will not forget.”

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For months, the city refused to reveal the officers’ names, saying that they had been the subjects of a threat but declining to provide details. In September, after a second public records request from The Times, the assistant city attorney identified the five officers who discharged their guns as Michael Jaen, Richard Parcella, Jason Cantrell, Sean Reidy and Andrew Cohen.

Inglewood police Lt. Scott Collins says the officers have been reassigned and are not currently on patrol.

Mayor James T. Butts has declined to discuss the shooting, saying it remains under investigation by the Inglewood Police Department. He did not respond to a message seeking comment on Wednesday.

The district attorney’s office, which will review the shooting to determine whether to file criminal charges against the officers, has yet to be presented with an investigation into the incident, an office spokeswoman said.

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Cathy Deppe, an Inglewood resident and member of Holy Faith, called for an independent investigation, saying she did not trust the city’s Police Department to investigate its own officers.

“An unresponsive city government adds to the deepening unrest in our community,” she said.

Torres said he and others in his organization would keep pressing city officials to be transparent.

“We cannot keep silent when there are no answers from our elected officials,” Torres said.

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angel.jennings@latimes.com

@AngelJennings

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