By Veronica Mackey
Mayor James Butts and members of the Inglewood City Council heard loudly and clearly from fellow residents demanding answers in the shooting deaths of Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin.
The packed council chambers were filled with friends, relatives and activists who say the Inglewood Police Department has been mum about details of the shootings which occurred Feb. 21, 2016, on Manchester Blvd. and Inglewood Ave.
According to sources, 20 shots were fired and police say the couple was initially believed to be unconscious while sitting in a car. When police approached, they allegedly saw a gun on Michael’s lap. She was sitting in the passenger’s seat. An “exchange” occurred between the officers, Michael and Sandlin, but it is unclear what happened. Five officers were involved. It is not known whether Michael or Sandlin threatened the officers.
The group, which included Michael’s sister, wanted to meet with Mayor Butts last week, but he was offsite. Kema Decatur, deputy to the city manager, was given a letter of demands and asked to forward it to the mayor.
A white woman spoke out on behalf of Black Lives Matter, and shared their demands with the public: release video of the incident, release names of the officers, provide status of the case, and prosecute the officers.
Another woman asked for a copy of the police department’s use of force policy.
“I stand with the families of Kisha and Marquintan, and demand that reparations be made to the family and we will not let it go,” another woman said.
A local preacher added, “I hope you would respond the right way instead of the usual way.”
“We have two concurrent investigations going on,” the mayor said. “One by the Inglewood Police Department that will be concluded probably within 30 days, and whatever actions to be taken will be taken at that time. [The case] has also been turned over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. They have the criminal investigation. That investigation is confidential. We are being as transparent as we can be within the law. We have no timeline on the district attorney’s investigation and they will make the determination.
“Jackie Lacy (L.A. County District Attorney) has not prosecuted even one officer, and you need to be more sensitive to family members. Get it right, don’t be like L.A.,” a woman said.
Trudy Goodman from 2nd District said: “We have been asking for the result of this investigation. Now, when you have an outcry, within 30 days you’re ready to have some type of report. You can quickly move on getting information on (the new stadium). This family has been waiting a year. We need transparency.”
“We said it would take a year, this is nothing new,” Butts said.
Kisha Michael’s sister said the family is “dealing with stress levels and nobody reached out. Nobody said anything about what happened to my sister. My mom still doesn’t know what’s going on. It took us a long time to bury her and you know that.”
Another woman criticized Butts for not approaching Michael’s mother when he attended the funeral. Butts responded that he donated to the services and did not approach the mother out of respect for the family.
There were several interruptions and outbursts from the audience.
“Everyone is entitled to due process. We have to conduct the investigation within the laws of the State of California. We have great compassion for the family. At the same time, I’m the mayor. I cannot speak to things that are under litigation,” Butts said.
He added, “I will be glad to meet with the family as soon as we close the chambers.”
Councilman Eloy Morales said, “We can easily look disingenuous. But we’d like nothing more than to see the result of this investigation so we can all move forward. But as representatives, we come into a situation where we have our procedures in place. We’re trying to be as sincere as we can. Moving forward, if he (Butts) said he’s meeting with the family, he will do so.”
In other matters, a local business owner complained that the Century Blvd. street improvement project has negatively affected his business. “I have had my store on Century Blvd that has been impacted significantly. My business has lost about 70 percent since it started … I shouldn’t be in this position. I brought it up to the City before and I had no resolution.”
City Clerk Yvonne Horton reminded everyone that April 4th is Municipal Election Day. Early voting begins on March 6th, and the last day of voter registration is March 20th.
Council members approved the following:
•A resolution by the City Clerk’s Office to destroy rosters from Election Years 2009, 2010, and 2011; and all records pertaining to the City of Champions Revitalization Initiative/Petition dated January 2, 2015. Several residents spoke out against this action.
•Payment of invoices submitted by GRM Information Management Services of California, LLC for scanning services
•A three-year blanket purchase order (with an option to extend for an additional year) with Vista Paint Corporation for paint used for graffiti removal
•A funding agreement with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Phase VI Improvement Project
•A contract for the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system upgrade at the Inglewood Water Treatment Plant
•Renewing of an agreement with CPower Enerwise Global Technologies, Inc. (CPower) to retain as a curtailment service provider for Southern California Edison’s “Share the Power Demand Response Program”