Inglewood City Council Hears from Community on Officer Shooting

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The Inglewood City Council cleared its regular meeting agenda last night to hear from the public on one emotional topic: the shooting death of Kevin Wicks by an Inglewood police officer. The 38-year-old postal clerk was fatally wounded at his apartment early Monday. The officers came to his door in response to a domestic disturbance call. They say he had a gun and raised it at officers. KPCC's Brian Watt says many in Inglewood blame the police chief for the city's third fatal police shooting in three months.

Brian Watt: More than a hundred people filled out cards so they could talk to the Council. Relatives of postal clerk Kevin Wicks got priority. His grandmother, Dorothy Nelson, spoke of losing her first-born grandson.

Dorothy Nelson (through tears): My daughter is too distraught, is the reason I'm standing here for her, because she can't come. This was too devastating to her. And the only thing that I'm asking is for justice. I want justice to be done. I'm not against anybody in any kind of way, shape, form, nor fashion.

Watt: The justice Nelson and others demanded starts with a full investigation into the shooting, and why the Inglewood police officer who shot and killed Wicks was even on patrol duty. Officer Brian Ragan had just returned to the job after another fatal shooting in May.

Inglewood Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks came back from vacation to address the city council. She said the shooting was under investigation, and she asked the public for patience. She got none from Fred Carter, Sr. The grandfather of one of Kevin Wicks's two daughters stood at the podium a few feet from the chief, and called for her resignation.

Fred Carter, Sr.: We're hurting. It's because of you.

Watt: But others defended the chief. One activist, who'd only identify herself as Ms. Bell, pointed out that Officer Ragan, a five-and-a-half year veteran, was on the force before Seabrooks took over as chief.

Ms. Bell: She should not be judged for something that she inherited. She's trying to do it, but it takes time.

Watt: Paralegal Lori McCoy Shuler went to high school with Kevin Wicks. She said his nickname was "The Gentle Giant," and she didn't believe he would raise a gun at a police officer. Nor would she defend the chief.

Lori McCoy Shuler: I have very close friends who are Inglewood police officers who told me that some of the officers don't respect Chief Seabrooks, and, you know, they try to retaliate against her. And I feel for her. She inherited a horrible situation. But the bottom line is, if she can't be effective in controlling her officers, she can't serve this community.

Watt: Some in Inglewood are calling for a Christopher Commission-style investigation into the police department. Others want the U.S. Justice Department to get involved.